Caldwell automatic microtome, 1884.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The microtome was invented in the mid 19th century to cut thin sections of tisue so that microscopic examination could take place more accurately and rapidly. The sample was 'fixed' in preservative, coloured with a stain to show relevant features, then embedded in a wax block. The block was then placed in the microtome and sliced up. This example, with a flywheel and conveyor belt, was made by the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company, England.