I am a microscope enthusiast who also restores antique microscopes. After considerable experimentation and research I have been able to recreate the lacquer recipes used in the Victorian and Edwardian era. I hand polish and hand lacquer all the microscopes I restore using original methods and authentic ingredients, and I have a set of skills that is rare in this day and age.
There are many reasons for restoring antiques and people have differing opinions on what is right and necessary. A general rule of thumb is that restoration is justified if more than 25% of the lacquer is damaged or if certain areas have considerable damage. When deciding whether or not to restore a piece one must however, take into consideration the value of the piece (historical and financial) and the need for preservation.
Restoration is important is to prevent damage to the metal (usually brass). If lacquer is damaged, the metal reacts with the air and corrosion starts, eventually the entire piece will turn black and the metal will be permanently damaged.
When deciding whether or not to restore a piece one must also consider the original maker’s vision. I like to think that the original maker was proud of his skills and wanted his work to look its best He would have wanted the finish to be as fine as the engineering. I’m quite sure that most microscope makers would have been saddened at the sight of a pock marked, dull, finish.
Many microscopes you see on auction sites or at antiques fairs have been machine polished and re-lacquered using modern nitrocellulose lacquers, these microscopes do not have the beautiful gold tones of the original microscopes and whilst they often look clean, they do not take your breath away with their beauty. I restore microscopes properly and I hope that the original makers would be happy with my work.
On this blog I shall be posting regular, informal, updates from my workshop describing the pieces I am working on and how they are progressing. I shall also post about some of my experimental work. On my website (see link at top of page) you can find more information about the services I offer and pricing.