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topic 11369

Cleaning antique microscope


I have just obtained my great-grandfather's R&J Beck microscope made in the late 19th century. It is all brass and VERY tarnished. MY questions are: Wasn't lacquer used then, and if so, is it possible that there is dirt over the lacquer? Should I chance polishing it myself? Also what is best way to clean optics, I don't know about optical coatings back then. I am never going to sell it and want to use it. Maybe I should leave it alone, but doesn't oxidation get worse?


James D [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Manchester, New Hampshire


Hello James,

Yes, lacquer was used at the turn of last century, I don't think there is a problem with dirt on the lacquer - the lacquer has likely disintegrated many years ago. I'd think you could try polishing the tarnished areas with Brasso [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] or Tarn-X [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] Tarn-X, if it doesn't look right or is too time consuming, someone in your area will do it for you. Sorry, I'm not familiar with optic coatings, but I think they usually use a very flat black color to help stop the light from reflecting.

Good luck,

Jake Koch
G. J. Nikolas & Co., Inc.
supporting advertiser
Bellwood, Illinois
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