NotesThe spectroscope was made by W Watson and Sons Limited in London, England between 1908 and 1917.
The company W. Watson & Son was established as an opticians and camera makers in 1837 in London. They became one of Britain's leading producers of photographic equipment, magic lanterns, binoculars, microscopes, and movie projectors. The company completed all their own woodwork, brass working and lens grinding.
In 1900, W. Watson & Son took over the significant scientific instrument maker John Browning & Co, and from 1908 the company became known as Watson & Sons Ltd.
As well as selling quality microscopes, they also sold pre prepared microscope slides. The company purchased the entire collection of Edmund Wheeler, who was a well known professional slide mounter in 1884, his collection consisted of over 40, 000 slides.
The W. Watson & Son company was also represented in Australia. The grandson of W. Watson, Henry Baker (1867-1940), had apprenticed to the company in London in the mid 1800s. Baker travelled to Australia to represent the firm in the 1888 Centennial International Exhibition. While he was in Australia he saw the opportunity to open a branch of the firm, and supplies were sent to start the colonial branch of the business. Henry's uncle, T. P. Watson, was in charge of the branch until his death in 1903.
Henry Baker became a valuable member of the scientific community. He was a member of the Royal Society of New South Wales from 1919 and later of the Microscopical Society, he was also a member of the British Astronomical Association from 1932.
Henry and his brother Frank acquired the Australian branch of the Watson business upon their uncles death in 1903. The business was registered as a proprietary company in 1916 and as a public company in 1919, all under the name W. Watson & Sons Ltd. The business ceased trading in 1956.
The following is a list of dates and corresponding workshop addresses, found inscribed on Watson & Sons instruments in museum collections. (please note this list may not be totally accurate but can be used as a rough guide):
Watson & Son:
1837-1860s= 71 City Road, London
1860s= 313 High Holburn, London.
13 forest Road Edinburgh
Watson & Sons Ltd
1908-onwards=313 High Holburn, London.
Australian Dictionary of Bibliography: http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/adbonline.htm
Webster's signature database: http://www.adlerplanetarium.org/research/collections/websters/index.shtml
Written by Erika Dicker
Assistant Curator, February 2008.
MadeW Watson & Sons Ltd 1908-1917