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Freezing microtome, London, England, 1883-1885

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Credit: Freezing microtome, London, England, 1883-1885. Science Museum, London. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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Invented in 1881, this type of freezing microtome used ice and salt to freeze animal and plant specimens to be sliced for microscope slides. Ice and salt were replaced by a removable ether spray in 1883. Freezing hardened and preserved the specimens’ structure quickly. Chemical preservation usually took six weeks but by using ether the process took a matter of seconds. Once frozen, a razor, operated by hand and secured by a tripod, moved across the top of specimen, creating slices. The slices were then mounted, stained and studied under the microscope by histologists. The knife and tubing is missing. modifier: Fearnley, W., maker: James Swift and Son Place made: London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom

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