Optical Technologies During the 19th Century

The most precise, reliable microscope of Holmes' times

Precise and Reliable Microscope

Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce as Holmes and Watson

Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce

Antique Microscope likely used by Sherlock Holmes

Antique Microscope

Along with Holmes' knowledge and incredible methods of deduction, he also used certain tools to aid his investigations. The exact tools and models that were used by Holmes were never documented. This has led enthusiasts to research the best technology of the time to conclude which were likely used by him. If we considered the best technology used by detectives in modern times, they could hardly compare, but in Victorian England they were considered quite well made. It is likely that Holmes used a 10 power silver and chrome magnifying glass for his close examinations. Images of Holmes with a magnifying glass are iconic. He used this tool at crime scenes to reveal aspects of the scene that were almost invisible to the human eye. This instrument became like a third arm to Holmes, like an extension of himself and he was never without it. The other tool he likely used while working at a micro level is a brass tripod base monocular optical microscope by Powell & Lealand. These tools were the most popular of his time. The brass microscope featured some of the finest craftsmanship of the time. The tool had a pivoting arm that could be turned in a full circle and the pieces were interchangeable. This allowed the monocular piece to be changed into a binocular piece or even a larger monocular eyepiece. This specific microscope was able to maintain its classy design because as technology improved the lens could be changed and modified on the original tool. With the use of these objects, he is characterized as acting as a bloodhound by Watson in the stories. He was able to go over every detail of every scene. The use of these tools could not produce such profound discoveries without his keen skills and expert knowledge.

Optical Technologies During the 19th Century