Watson & Sons ‘Van Hueurck’ microscope, £1150 at Burstow & Hewett.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

His biographical details are hard to pin down, but in his publication Practical Principles of Plain Photo Micrography (1916) he describes himself as a lecturer in botany at the University of Dundee. He donated a large collection of mineralogical specimens to Hereford Museum in 1945.

West’s chosen microscope was a Watson & Sons ‘Van Hueurck’ with the serial number 3345. The famous Belgian microscopist Henri Van Heurck (1839-1909) teamed up with the 313 High Holborn firm to make a series of compound monocular microscopes from 1889: this a variant of the Grand model issued from 1894 into the 1920s.

Offered in its original case together with some of West’s hand-written notes to the instructions, it took £1150 at this East Sussex auction on March 15.

Sold at £5200 (estimate £2000-3000) was a late Victorian mahogany microscope slide collector’s cabinet.

Comprising 21 numbered drawers, they contained an extensive collection of 215 slides, most of them examples of fern, plus West’s notes and research relating to their compilation.

A similar 21-drawer cabinet in pine containing a collection of 374 professionally prepared natural history slides sold for a hammer price of £3800 at Ryedale Auctioneers in Kirkbymoorside, North Yorkshire, also on March 15.