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Rocking microtome, Cambridge, England, 1885

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Credit: Rocking microtome, Cambridge, England, 1885. Science Museum, London. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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The razor of this microtome is fixed and the specimen to be sliced for microscopic examination passes up and down in an arc of a circle across the razor in a rocking motion. The microtome is fixed on to a table, so that specimens fall to the desktop, before being mounted onto slides. Typical specimens in-clude human and animal body tissues and plants which could be studied by histologists in laboratories and, later, hospitals. The rocking microtome was invented by Sir Horace Darwin (1851-1928), the son of Charles Darwin. The microtome was still available in the twentieth century. It was loaned to the Science Museum by The Cambridge Scientific In-strument Company, as a piece of new technology when it was first developed in 1885. It later became part of the permanent collection.

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