The MBA Object Collection

The MBA Object Collection consists of over one hundred science-related artefacts. From personal items like E. T. Browne's very own microscope and the actual sledge used by E. W. Nelson during the famous British Antarctic Expedition (1910-13), to rare precision instruments such as a Fuller Calculator and a Pantograph, the MBA Object Collection provides a fascinating insight into the advancement of marine biology during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Below is a selection of objects that can be found among this significant collection.  


CTD (Sonde)

Pantograph

Abbe's Test-Platte

Barograph

Beam Scales

Epidiascope

Herbarium Press

Ionization Potentiometer

Levin-Wyman Ergometer

Microscope

Rocking Microtome

Sledge

Diving Helmet

Flow Meter

Fuller Calculator

Marine Distance Meter

MBA Squilla Bell

Microsix-L Exposure Meter

Precise Level

Precision Micro-Projector

Resistometer

Specimen Slide Drawers

Torsion Balance

Universal Avometer

Weston Normal Cell


CTD (Sonde)

Casella, London, UK

 

An oceanographic instrument used to determine the conductivity, temperature, and depth of a particular part of the ocean.

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Pantograph 

R. Nicholl, London, UK

 

A mechanical linkage based on parallelograms so that the movement of one pencil or pen, in tracing an image, produces identical movements in a second pencil or pen. 

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Abbe's Test-Platte

Carl Zeiss, Jena, Germany

A coverslip used to focus a microscope's objective lens. 

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Barograph

A scientific instrument used in meteorology to measure atmospheric pressure and help forecast the weather.

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Beam Scales

L. Oertling Ltd., London, UK

 

A simple weight measuring device. 

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Edpidiascope 

Houghton-Butcher Ltd., London, UK

 

This device was used to display (or project) opaque materials by shining bright light on to the subject from above. 

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Herbarium Press

 

A wooden and metal clamping mechanism used to preserve the diverse variety of flora specimens that make up the MBA Herbarium.

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Ionization Potentiometer

H. Tinsley & Co. Ltd., London, UK

 

An instrument that measures electrical potential (voltage) in a circuit.

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Levin-Wyman Ergometer

S. F. Palmer

 

One of only five in existence. This device was invented at Plymouth and used to examine the mechanical properties of dogfish hyoid muscles.

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Microscope

J. Swift & Son, London, UK

 

A folding brass binocular microscope once owned by E. T. Browne

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Rocking Microtome

Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company Ltd., Cambridge, UK

 

This device slices soft animal tissue for examination under a microscope.

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Sledge

 

This sledge was used on the British Antarctic Expedition (1910-1913) by the MBA biologist E. W. Nelson. It is currently on loan to Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery

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Diving Helmet

 

A replica of the diving helmet used by the MBA scientists J. A. Kitching, T. T. Macon and H. C. Gilson in summer 1931 to assess the possiblity of studying the sublittoral (seashore) ecology at Plymouth.

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Flow Meter

 

Used to measure the movement (flow) of liquids.

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Fuller Calculator

W. F. Stanley & Co. Ltd., London, UK

 

A logarithmic calculator. Its fundamental principle is precisely the same as an ordinary Slide Rule, but it differs radically in mechanical construction. 

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Marine Distance Meter

Henry Hughes & Son, London, UK

 

A device used by mariners to determine the distance between two ships. 

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MBA Squilla Bell

 

This bell was used on the research vessel MBA Squilla which operated between 1973 and 2003.

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Microsix-L Exposure Meter

Leitz, Wetzlar, Germany

 

An instrument that is used to measure the quantity of light reaching a microscope lens.

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Precise Level

Casella, London, UK

 

These devices are used by surveyors to accurately determine the position of points and the distances and angles between them. 

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Precision Micro-Projector

Flatters & Garnett Ltd., London, UK

 

An instrument that projects microscope slides onto a white screen or wall.

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Resistometer

H. Tinsley & Co. Ltd., London, UK

 

An instrument for measuring the variations in resistivity along wires. 

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Specimen Slide Drawers

 

Twenty-nine drawers containing slide specimens of a variety of marine life.

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Torsion Balance

White Electric Instrument Co. Ltd., Worcester, UK

 

A device used to measure the gravitational acceleration at the Earth's surface.

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Universal Avometer

AVO Ltd., London, UK

 

A type of sensitive ammeter: an instrument for detecting electric current.

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Weston Normal Cell

H. Tinsley & Co., London, UK

 

Invented by Edward Weston in 1893, this device is used in laboratories to calibrate voltmeters.

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The content of this page was partly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of "The Laboratory on the Hoe" project; please click here for more information and resources about this project.

      

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