This medium-sized compound monocular is a Zeiss model IVa with coarse and fine focus, triple nosepiece (with three Zeiss objectives), square mechanical stage, trunnion, Abbé condenser with iris diaphragm that can shift from left to right, sub-stage mirror, horseshoe base, and wooden box with extra lenses. The “Carl Zeiss / Jena / No 23175” inscription on the tube is in block letters (not cursive), and of the form that the firm used before introducing its trade mark in 1904. It was probably purchased in the 1890s for use in the Hygienic Laboratory of the United States Marine Hospital Service, a facility that was then located on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and that later became the National Institutes of Health.
The first Marine Hospital Service Hygienic Laboratory had been established on Staten Island in 1887 by Joseph Kinyoun (1860-1919), a young American physician who had studied bacteriology with Robert Koch in Germany. Kinyoun equipped the Hygienic Laboratory with scientific apparatus “modeled after those used in the laboratory of Dr. Koch,” including “Zeiss’s latest improved microscope objectives and micro-photographic apparatus.” In September 1887, Kinyoun used a Zeiss microscope to examine the “excreta” of sick passengers on an Italian ship recently arrived in New York, and determined that the cause was cholera. This, says historian Eva Ahrén, “was the first time cholera was identified by means of microbial investigation in the Americas.”
Ref: Carl Zeiss, Microscopes and Microscopic Accessories (Jena, 1898), pp. 46-47.
Victoria Harden, Inventing the NIH: Federal Biomedical Research Policy 1887-1937 (Baltimore, 1986).
Eva Ahrén, “Joseph Kinyoun, the Hygienic Laboratory, and the Origins of the NIH,” http://irp.nih.gov/catalyst/v20i6/nih-in-history
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
ca 1890-1904
Zeiss, Carl
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
case: 14 3/4 in x 7 1/8 in x 8 1/4 in; 37.465 cm x 18.0975 cm x 20.955 cm
microscope: 12 5/8 in x 3 5/8 in x 5 1/2 in; 32.0675 cm x 9.2075 cm x 13.97 cm
place made
Deutschland: Thüringen, Jena
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Science & Mathematics
Science & Scientific Instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Department of Health, Education and Welfare
Additional Media

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