Article by Dr. Robert Berdan
November 5, 2017
Diatom Pleurosigma angulatum Plate 50 Magnification 750X
When I was an undergraduate student at the University of Western, in London, Ontario, one of my instructors for Microbiology was Dr. Carl Robinow. Dr. Robinow was known for his studies on bacterial spores and earned an international reputation in the field of microbial cytology. He was born in Germany in 1909. I liked Dr. Robinow's lectures because he would rant on a wide variety of microbial topics and while others in the class didn't appreciate his style as they were hoping to be spoon fed, Dr. Robinow would reveal numerous insights into microbiology. I would sometimes visit Dr. Robinow after class and show him some pictures I took of Diatoms and he shared with me some of the things he was working on. At the end of the year he gave me this book of photomicrographs by Dr. John Redmayne. The cover was missing but otherwise the book from 1877 and its beautiful photomicrographs of diatoms was intact. I had the book professionally bound a few years ago. Dr. Robinow was retiring (1978) and I was surprised and grateful that he offered me this book of photographs. In this article I would like to share with you some of these photographs by John Redmayne and a little bit about the the man who took them.
Front page of the book, table of contents and technical details.
I recently discovered an article about John Redmayne by Dr. Brian Stevenson and asked him for permission to use some of his images and text. What is so amazing is that although John's photographs are over 140 years old - the photographs are amazingly clear and well preserved. The book was self published and contains the actual prints glued onto the pages. Photography and the camera had only been invented in the early 1820's. While I believe the prints are calotypes, I need to do more research to be certain. I have scanned and included some of John's photomicrographs below.
Strewn diatom slides by John Redmayne. Below are darkfield photomicrographs of various diatom species.
Image courtesy of Dr. Brian Stevenson - http://microscopist.net/
Left: Plate 1 Magnification 500X 1. Epithemia turidia, 4. Epithemia granulata 5. Epithemia westermanni. 500X Right: Plate 3 - 1 Epithemia gibba, 3 Epithemia ventricosa 4. Epthemia zebra 500X.
Diatom Cymbella gastroides Plate 31 Magnification 500X
Diatoms are a major group of microalgae, and are among the most common types of phytoplankton. Diatoms are unicellular, although they can form colonies in the shape of filaments or ribbons (e.g. Fragilaria), fans (e.g. Meridion), zigzags (e.g. Tabellaria), or stars (e.g. Asterionella). A unique feature of diatom cells is that they are enclosed within a cell wall made of silica (hydrated silicon dioxide) called a frustule. These frustules show a wide diversity in form, but are usually almost bilaterally symmetrical, hence the group name. Diatoms are found in both freshwater and marine environments - source Wikipedia.
Diatom Surirella biseriata Plate 14 Magnification 500X
Diatom Gomphonema geminatum Plate 34 Magnification 500X Compare this photo taken in 1877 with one of my photos taken with a modern microscope and stacked.
Diatom Navicula nobilis Plate 35 Magnification 500X
Left: Plate 22 Surirella striatula 500X Right: Plate 28 1 Campyloneis grevilli, 2. Campyloneis regala, 3. Orthoneis fimbriata 4. Orthoenies splendida.
Left: Plate 52 Pleurosigma formosum 500 X Right Plate: 53 Stauroneis baileyii 500X
Left: Plate 58 Triceratum favus var spetanghulatum 500X Right: Plate 59 Triceratum inflatum 500X
Left: Plate 63 Trinacria regina and Trinacria excavata 500X Right: Plate 64 Hemialus alatus, and Actinocyclus ralfsii.
Left: Plate 68 Aulacodiscus comborii Right: Plate 74 Arachnoiddiscus ornatus 500X
Left: Plate 55 1 Actinosphenia halionyx 2 Actionsphenia spendens 500X Right: Plate 78 Helipelta and Actinoptychus undulatus 500X
There are a total of 81 photographic plates in Redmayne's book and the clarity of the photographs is amazing.
John Thomas Redmayne (1846-1880) was a surgeon, physician, and amateur naturalist specializing in the collection and photography of diatoms. He was born near Horton, Yorkshire and his parents William and Isabella Redmayne operated a 120 acre farm named "Gallabar". In September of 1864 he passed his medical examinations in Glasgow and continued to study at Guy's hospital in London and received his diploma and admittance to the Royal College of Surgeons in January, 1869. In 1870 he married Sarah Fielden Hyatt. His interest in diatoms and making diatom slides occurred prior to 1874. He advertised in a popular magazine Hardwick's Science Gossip to exchange diatom slides. In July of 1875 issue of Hardwick's he described a device which he invented to collect diatoms.
Picture above from Brian Stevenson with permission.
In 1876 John Redmayne self published a book of photomicrographs containing 81 plates of diatoms, some of the photos are shown above. He also sold his diatom photographs form Edward Ward's shop in Manchester. Copies of his book were donated to the Quekett Microscopical Club which he joined in 1876. John died after a long illness on September 10, 1880 at the age of 34 ( the biographic information is from Brian Stevenson - http://microscopist.net/ visit his web site for more information by John Redmayne and other microscopists).
References - History of Microscopy and Photomicrography
Brian Stevenson http://microscopist.net/
Quekett Microscopical Club - http://www.quekett.org/
Fleaglass Antique Scientific Instruments - http://www.fleaglass.com/
History of the Microscope
Johann Diedrich Möller (1844-1907) - microscopist and diatom arranger
Ernst Gundlach - he set up the microscope department of Baush & Lomb.
Robert Berdan is a professional nature photographer living in Calgary, AB specializing in nature, wildlife and science photography. Robert offers photo guiding and private instruction in all aspects of nature photography and Adobe Photoshop training.
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