James Healey

by Brian Stevenson
last updated November, 2020

The identity of James Healey remains an enigma.

His custom-printed labels with the address “London” appear on a substantial number of microscope slides, implying that he was a serious producer and/or collector of slides. All known Healey slides are covered with patterned paper, a style that was fashionable until the 1880s.

Some Healey-labeled slides are covered with paper imprinted with the initials “A. A.” (Figure 2). That custom-made paper was produced for Alfred Allen (1833-1898), who was a founding member of the Postal Microscopical Club (in 1873), editor of the PMS’s journal, and a Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society. Additionally, Healey’s name and address label is identical to Allen’s, suggesting that both men utilized the same printer. Thus, we can conclude that Healey and Allen were acquainted to some extent. To date, I have not identified Healey in any society membership list, nor found an explanation of why Healey put his labels on slides that bear Allen’s customized papers.

One potential mention of our microscopist appeared in the 1903 Proceedings of the Croydon Microscopical Society, in which one James Healey was thanked for a donation to the club (Figure 3). That man was not a member, however, so the trail quickly turns cold.

Figure 1. Examples of James Healey’s microscope slides.


Figure 2. James Healey and Alfred Allen used labels that are essentially identical, and some of Healey’s microscope slides bear Allen’s custom-printed cover papers. The connection between the two men is not known. Slides from the author’s collection or adapted for nonprofit, educational purposes from an internet auction site.


Figure 3. During 1903, one James Healey made a donation to the Croydon Microscopical Society. Was this our microscopist?



Bracegirdle, Brian (1998) Microscopical Mounts and Mounters, Quekett Microscopical Club, London, pages 50, 144, and 146, and Plates 20-P and 21-B

Ells, William (1999) Old microscope slides prepared by Alfred Allen, Micscape, http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/artoct99/ellslide.html