[ Scientific Instrument - Physical Artifact ]
Laban Heath Counterfeit Currency Microscope RARE 1866
Telescope Magnifier Microscope Compendium with orig Box We offer here a rare example of Laban Heath's Microscope Compendium. It is a wonderful instrument that can be used for microscopy, as a telescope/spyglass, magnifier, and as a tool used with Heath's Counterfeit Currency book. Few currency and microscope collectors are even aware of this microscope's existence. Heath offered multiple editions of his small book on counterfeit detection, and in the later editions he offered a microscope in the rear for $5. The lower section, or magnifying portion, was offered at $1.50, the upper section combining microscopic and telescopic is $3.50. "Making the whole "Combination Glass", $5.00" Our example has an extra piece we'll describe below (and visible to the left in the second picture. The Combination Glass is to the right in that photograph. This microscope is quite rare in our experience. This is the second example we've seen, and the first we've owned. The first example (an incomplete example with only the upper portion available) sold on ebay recently for over $1100. You can probably still see it at ebay number 220599288744. This example is far superior both in condition and completeness, and even has the pieces of the original box. It is a worthy example for any collection of currency or microscopy. Before getting into the instrument and what it does, some historical context may be helpful. Currency counterfeiting was a difficult issue after the civil war. Laban Heath's book Heath's Infallible Countefeit Detector was a help showing people how to detect some counterfeit bills. So much so that the book went through multiple editions. In the text of the book, Heath told merchants and others what to look for on genuine currency (bills). It included closeups of currency, and was a fine example of the printing arts all by itself. Of course, those without magnifiers had a harder time using his book than others. The microscope was a natural addition to his business. Still not convinced it was a tough issue? The issue was big enough that the US Government founded a new service to help deal with the issue. That service was the US Secret Service, founded in 1865: "The Secret Service Division was created on July 5, 1865 in Washington, D.C., to suppress counterfeit currency. Chief William P. Wood was sworn in by Secretary of the Treasury Hugh McCulloch." (see http://www.secretservice.gov/history.shtml for more information) Heath patented the microscope/telescope/magnifier combination in May 8, 1866. The microscope and magnifier helped users to see the details of the currency they were examining. While the Secret Service made an impact on reducing counterfeiting, the issue was big enough that Heath's printed book was still used. We found editions in research libraries and museums listed for the years 1864, 1866, 1867, 1870, 1873, 1877, 1878, and 1879. The microscope appears in at least the 1870 edition (noted from an example found in google books for that year, noted as the tenth revised edition). Part of the marketing material in the book is a list of Members of Congress who after examining his work "cheerfully recommend his work". After the civil war, it would have been important to have good confidence in the money being used. Heath had several patents one of which is patent number US000054542 ("Improvement in Optiocal Instruments") which notes in part: "Be it known that I, LABAN HEATH, of the city of Boston...have invented a new and useful Optical Instrument Easily Convertible into a Microscope, a Telescope and a Magnifying Eyeglass...". This patent was dated May 8, 1866. This is the same date we find on the instrument we have here. A second patent was number 66,337 ("Mode of Detecting Countefeited Bank Notes") issued July 2, 1867. That patent has to do with the method of using Heath's book to help identify fraudulent notes. WHAT WE OFFER HERE: We offer the whole "Combination Glass" which includes the magnifying glass, microscope, and spyglass. A fine, small format compendium. The lacquer on the instrument is very very nice, with some minor wear, perhaps 95% of the original. The instrument is SIGNED "Patented May, 1866 Laban Heath" in a nicely engraved italic script on the top portion of the instrument. It has not been polished or messed with in any way we can detect - completely original! We will include copies of pages printed from the Heath book, and copies of the 2 patents. We also include what appears to be the original box. There are 2 sleeves that slide into each other, and ends for each sleeve that have come detached. The compendium fits snugly into the sleeves. I'm sure the ends can be re-attached if desired. The telescope attachment (the upper portion) works nicely - the end piece slides in and out smoothly. The optics are clear. The magnifier (the bottom portion) also works nicely. The three footed base allows the magnifier to rotate around, moving the magnifier up and down (for focusing). There are 2 lenses in this bottom piece, and there appears to be some oil residue (?) in between the 2 lenses. The bottom lense is designed to be unscrewed allowing internal cleaning. There are 2 small dents in the threading that would have to be straightened for this to happen. There is an additional piece not mentioned in the patent which is present here. It is 2 brass rings that are separated with a single brass pin keeping the 2 rings at a fixed distance apart. Clearly it is designed for this setup, but I'm not 100% sure how it is used. The only way I could figure using it was with the upper portion upside down - when this is placed on the top of the brass rings, the "bill" being viewed is very sharp and in focus. There may be other uses for it, but we're very pleased it is here as an extra for the compendium. I've included a photograph that shows this use. We believe hence that this unit is complete as issued, and in very nice condition. It is hard to believe we'll find a better example anytime soon. Bid early and often! Don't let this one get away...we've started the microscope with a very low starting bid and no reserve. ($10 bill in photos NOT included). The last image shows the compendium ready to put into the box. Very compact, nicely engineered! Please ask any questions you have before bidding. While we deal in microscopes and believe we are describing this accurately, we would prefer that you have good confidence about what you are bidding on before placing bids. We reserve the right to relist this item if EBAY goes down during the last 10 minutes of the auction. We package securely so that your item gets to you in great shape. Thanks for looking, and please let us know if you would like to be notified of similar items, or if you have items we can help you sell. We also handle antiquarian books in science, technology, medicine and other fields. From a web search: A microscope is an instrument to see objects too small for the naked eye. The science of investigating small objects using such an instrument is called microscopy. Microscopic means invisible to the eye unless aided by a microscope. 
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