Contemporary prepared microscope slides of samples taken on the Challenger Expedition are highly sought after. This one is of particular interest as few can be found prepared by John Browning.
The Challenger Expedition 1873-1876 was the perhaps the world’s greatest marine focused scientific expedition. Organised by the world’s greatest club. The Royal Society, a total of 126 thousand kms were travelled. She carried 190km of Indian hemp for making soundings and taking samples, had beautiful fitted laboratories and the finest instruments of the day; and no doubt microscopes made by John Browning a leading maker of microscopes and spectroscopes of the highest standard.
The slide is very clearly labelled with the preparers name and address at 63 The Strand. The date the sample was taken on the Challenger, 21st March 1876. The depth of sample taken, 1,990 fathoms and the location Latitude 21.15 South Longitude 14.2 West.
On the 21st March 1876 the Challenger had been at sea three years and was on her way home to England. The location is almost the same longitude as Voyager’s favourite island Tristan d’Acunha and a few degrees north.
Campbell’s “Log Letters from the Challenger” recorded the passage of the vessel. In literally the final paragraph we have our location.
“On the 6th February 1876 the Challenger left the Falklands for Monte Video; thence she proceeded towards Tristan d’Acunha. [Here they found the water very cold at depth, finding a stratum of water 400 fathoms in thickness below freezing.] From the neighbourhood of Tristan d’Acunha the ship sailed to Ascension, finding shallow soundings, and the bottom temperature 35.9F having left Ascension she touched at Porto Praya, St Vincent, and Vigo, and arrived at Spithead on the 24th May 1878. And so ended the cruise of the Challenger”
In our images we show a chart showing the track of the vessel (taken from Campbell’s Log-Letters – see our copy) and the nature of various sample taken [Yellow] is Globigerina Ooze. The location of this sample is almost equidistant between Tristan and Ascension [just south west of St Helena}. You will see that it is marked Station 21 and the depth of 1,990 noted.
Globigerina refers to planktonic foraminifera with calcareous shells.
See our Research Section for a note on the achievements of John Browning. We have his spectroscopes for sale elsewhere on this site.
Original Challenger Expedition prepared slide, of good Globigerina sample, from known location and date of sample – rare distinguished preparer.