Adolf Schulze, 1840-1891

by Brian Stevenson
last updated May, 2014

Adolf Schulze was an amateur microscopist, and an expert in high resolution examination of test objects. A rare slide was recently located with Schulze’s name on the label (Figure 1, left), allowing identification of his unsigned microscope slides. The unsigned slides appear at auction with some regularity, suggesting that he made and distributed a fair number of them. His works are attractive both macro- and microscopically, with elegant handwriting, labels and ringing (Figure 1). Butterfly scales, for use as test objects, are the most frequently encountered specimens, although he also mounted diatoms, insect wings, and fabrics. Many of Schulze’s slides were prepared for high resolution microscopy, with very thin cover slips that permitted focusing with objective lenses up to 1/50 inch. Judging from his writings, such slides have the specimens mounted onto the cover slip, not the slide, thereby minimizing the space between the specimens and the microscope’s objective lens.

Since many of Schulze’s works are found with Watson and Son labels, he may have supplied microscope slides to that retailer (Figure 1). Notably, Watson’s London address was trimmed from those labels. This may indicate that they were intended for sale in Scotland or elsewhere outside of London.

Schulze was also well-regarded for his photomicrography. He published several articles on methods for taking photographs through a microscope, and his pictures often accompanied other publications (Figure 3).

Figure 1. Left, a very rare microscope slide with Adolf Schulze’s name on the label. Such slides were probably made for his own collection or for exchange with colleagues. To the right are 4 unsigned slides with Schulze’s handwriting and labels similar to those of the signed slide. Many such slides have Watson & Son labels, suggesting that Schulze prepared for Watson ca. 1876-77 (that company became Watson & Sons in 1882).


Figure 2. An 1876 exchange offer from “Hardwicke’s Science-Gossip”. His offered slides of butterfly scales, covered for a 1/50 inch objective lens, is consistent with known Schulze slides (see Figure 1), and with his apparent favoring of that lens.


Figure 3. Photomicrograph of a breast tumor, produced by Adolf Schulze for “The Glasgow Medical Journal”, 1883.


Schulze was a yarn merchant. Originally from Germany, he moved to England in 1861 and, in 1866, joined with his brother in a yarn business in Manchester. He moved to Glasgow, Scotland in 1867, but retained an operation in Manchester. His full name was either Adolf Paul Schulze or Paul Adolf Schulze; both were used in records. His businesses used the name “Paul Schulze”, while he appears to have used “Adolf” with his microscopy and photography colleagues.

The earliest record I could locate of Adolf Schulze’s interest in microscopy was his induction into the Glasgow Society of Field Naturalists, on October 26, 1875. He clearly was deeply involved with microscopy long before that time. In November, 1875, he presented a talk and wrote a 24-page article “On microscopy and microscopic illumination” for the Society’s Transactions. In conjunction with his lecture, Schulze exhibited his impressive collection of “Two beautiful microscopes, and a large collection of microscopic apparatus and slides. His instruments were by Ross, of London, and Whyte, Glasgow, and he had also microscopes on the table by Smith and Beck, Hartnack, &c. He exhibited several objects under l-50th object-glass of Powell and Lealand”.

Among other exhibitions to the Glasgow Society, on June 27, 1876, Schulze displayed “a number of beautiful butterflies from China, the scales of which form admirable test objects for the microscope”.

In mid-1876, Schulze published the only microscopy advertisement yet identified, an exchange request in Hardwicke’s Science-Gossip. He was looking for slides with Amphipleura pellucida diatoms as test objects, in exchange for butterfly scales prepared for a 1/50 inch objective lens (Figure 2). That same year, he also wrote articles for Science-Gossip on Wenham’s binocular microscope apparatus and on high-resolution examination of Surirella gemma diatoms.

Schulze wrote numerous other articles on microscopy through the years. One was widely reprinted worldwide, a paper read to the Royal Microscopical Society in 1878, entitled “An easy and simple method of resolving the finest-lined balsamed diatomaceous tests by transmitted lamplight, with special reference to Amphipleura pellucida”. That paper is reprinted in full at the end of this essay, as an example of the lengths to which a Victorian microscopist would go to visualize the fine markings of test objects.

Adolf joined the Natural History Society of Glasgow in 1879, the Quekett Microscopical Club in 1880, the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1887 and the Royal Microscopical Society in 1888. He was a founding member of the Scottish Microscopical Society.

He died on January 3, 1891, when only 50 years old. His company, held in partnership with Walter R. Paton, reorganized that February and retained the name of “Schulze, Paton & Company”. Later publications imply that Adolf’s son, Paul Guido Schulze, was an active member of the company.

Other details on Schulze’s life can be gleaned his obituaries:

The Transactions of the Natural History Society of Glasgow wrote, “28th January, 1891 .. The Secretary (Mr. D. A. Boyd), referred to the loss which the Society had sustained in the death of Mr. Adolf Paul Schulze, F.R.S.E., F.R.M.S., which took place on 3rd inst. He moved, and it was unanimously resolved that a memorial notice of Mr. Schulze should be recorded in the minutes, and a copy thereof transmitted to Mrs. Schulze, with an expression of the sympathy of the Members of the Society with her and her family in their bereavement.
In Memoriam—Adolf Paul Schulze, F.R.S.E., F.R.M.S.
Mr. Schulze was born on 8th October, 1840, at Crimmitschau, in Saxony. He was educated at the Burgerschule in that town, at a similar school at Mohl, near Zwickau, and at the Polytechnic at Chemnitz. He studied engineering at Chemnitz for about four years, and came to England in 1861, when he obtained the position of draughtsman to Messrs. Pratchett, Blaylock and Pratchett. In 1866 he joined his brother in business in Manchester as a yarn merchant, and settled in Glasgow in 1869
(ed. note: The Glasgow Commercial List states that Schulze began his business in that city during 1867).
While well known in business circles, his high scientific attainments were widely recognised and appreciated. In a great commercial centre such as our own, comparatively few men immersed in the daily cares of business life find time, or even have the inclination, to devote their leisure hours to the cultivation of a department of science, and fewer still are able to prosecute such studies with the unflagging energy necessary to insure an eminent degree of success. But no desire of mere amusement or recreation marked his devotion to his favourite pursuit. An intense love of research enabled him to find the keenest pleasure in laborious investigations, while his great capacity for such work, and habits of scrupulous accuracy, rendered these investigations of permanent value to science.
Mr. Schulze's special study was the microscope considered as an optical instrument. He was thus deeply interested in all its improvements, as well as in the newest methods of microscopical research, and was usually the first to introduce new lenses and optical appliances to the notice of Glasgow microscopists. To his great enthusiasm was added a faculty of lucid explanation which enabled him readily to impart information regarding the most minute details of optical science; while the value of his opinion and criticism was greatly appreciated at home and abroad. He possessed the highest skill in microphotography; and examples of his work in this department, almost unsurpassed as affording perfect representations of some of the most minute test-objects, have been exhibited at meetings of our own and other local Societies. He also made numerous substantial contributions to microscopical science in the form of papers to scientific journals and the Transactions of various learned Societies with which he was connected.
Mr. Schulze was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society, and one of the most active office-bearers of the recently instituted Scottish Microscopical Society. During the early years of his residence in this city he became connected with the Glasgow Society of Field Naturalists, and since the amalgamation of that Society with our own in 1879, he has continued to take an active interest in the progress of our work.
Although to many of us Mr. Schulze was best known as a man of science, those who were privileged with his private acquaintance have borne testimony to his singular modesty and unobtrusiveness, as well as to the geniality of his disposition, which endeared him to a wide circle of friends. He has left a widow and six children to mourn his loss.

From the British Medical Journal, “Scottish Microscopical Society. The fourth meeting of this Society was held in Edinburgh on January 16th, Professor Rutherford, F.R.S., President, in the chair. The President referred to the loss the Society had sustained by the decease of one of its Vice-Presidents, W. Adolf Paul Schulze, a native of Saxony, who settled in Glasgow as a merchant, and devoted his leisure time to microscopical optics, and especially to photomicrography, in which he acquired very remarkable skill, his article on the subject in the British Journal of Photography for May 24th, 31st, and June 7th, 1889, being one of the best expositions of the practice of that difficult subject which has yet appeared”.

The English Mechanic and World of Science, “Our readers will regret to see the announcement of the death of Mr. Adolf Paul Schulze, F.R.S.E. and F.R.M.S., a frequent contributor to our pages on optical and microscopical subjects. Mr. Schulze was a yarn merchant in Glasgow, and made the study of microphotography, microscopy, and optics the special pleasure of his spare time. Born in 1840 at Crimmitschau, Saxony, he was educated at the Polytechnic of Chemnitz, where he studied engineering, and came to England in 1861, ultimately settling in Glasgow in 1869. He made the subjects above named his special study, and was known from his scientific work to the leading men in all that is comprised in the term ‘Optics’, Prof. Abbe, of Jena, being in regular correspondence with him. Perhaps it would be too much to say that Adolf Schulze's life was lived in the wrong place; but for a busy man, in the commercial sense, he did much in the interests of science - so much as to give an idea of what he might have done had it been possible for him to have devoted himself to research”.

Figure 4. Advertisement from “The Australian Handbook, Shippers’ and Importers’ Directory & Business Guide for 1888”. Note that Schulze exported his products through Manchester, where he had lived from ca. 1866 through ca. 1867.


Schulze’s article on test object visualization that originally appeared in the 1878 Journal of the Royal Microscopical Society:

An easy and simple method of resolving the finest-lined balsamed diatomaceous tests by transmitted lamplight, with special reference to Amphipleura pellucida. By Adolf Schulze,Glasgow.

The resolution of the finest-lined tests, and especially of the markings of Amphipleura pellucida, is at all times a matter of some difficulty, and requires for its accomplishment the best objectives and the most careful arrangement of the illumination. It is generally assumed that the resolution of the closest markings on diatoms is far more difficult when they are mounted in balsam than when they are mounted dry, and with the ordinary means of illumination this appears to be indeed the case; but I purpose to describe a simple method by which even so small and closely striated specimens as Nos. 18, 19 and 20 on Möller's Diatom-Probeplatte, and other still finer valves, having about 100,000 lines per inch, may be easily and unmistakably resolved into distinct striae by lamplight, and which by sunlight yields so excellent results that I can only compare them to those admirable photographs of Amphipleura pellucida taken by Dr. Woodward. It must, however, be borne in mind that the ridges constituting the markings of these minute diatoms mounted in balsam, possess a minimum of substance, and being extremely transparent, cannot throw black shadows such as those of the larger and coarser frustules, and that if the field were too brilliantly illuminated these infinitesimal shadows would be totally obliterated. Some people may be inclined to think that the markings shown as alternate grey and white lines are only faintly resolved; but microscopists whose eyes are cultured by observations on diatoms will readily admit such a resolution to be perfect, provided no spurious or coloured lines make their appearance, and they will grant that this is all which can be expected to be seen under the most favourable circumstances.

The best dry achromatic condensers, and even Powell and Lealand's supplementary stage and small plano-convex condenser, fail, as far as I know, to aid in the resolution of balsamed specimens of A. pellucida; and those few observers who have succeeded on this difficult test by lamplight have not published any accounts of their modes of illumination.

In an article on the Immersion Paraboloid and the Reflex Illuminator, which appeared in the 'English Mechanic' of 7th December, 1877, Mr. F.H. Wenham claimed as one advantage of the latter over the former that it would give a dark ground on balsamed objects even when they were viewed with immersion lenses. This statement I cannot but consider as only partially correct; and I would like to divide immersion objectives according to their behaviour with the reflex illuminator into three classes: 1stly, those which give a dark ground; 2ndly, those which give a grey ground; and 3rdly, those wide-angled immersion lenses which are capable of giving a light ground, and which alone are suitable for the method I am about to describe.

Some time ago, whilst trying Wenham's reflex illuminator and Powell and Lealand's new formula immersion lens by unmodified sunlight on Möller's Probeplatte, I found on lowering the condenser that the field became brightly illuminated by a spectrum. I focussed for one of the larger diatoms, and found it bathed in spectral colours, which impinged on it very obliquely, and which brought out the markings very distinctly. Bringing successively the finest diatoms of the Platte, such as Navicula crassinervia, Nitzschia curvula, and Amphipleura pellucida in the field, I found all their cross markings revealed with wonderful distinctness, the last-named diatom appearing like a fine comb. These cross markings, for which I had been looking for years, and which had baffled all my efforts to show them, appeared now all at once distinct enough to be counted, and were entirely free from spurious and coloured fringes. I then tried the so-called Edmund immersion paraboloid in the same way, and found that by its means similar but not so satisfactory results could be obtained. The secret of my success was that I had used castor-oil instead of distilled water to unite the top of the reflex illuminator with the under side of the slide, and the former being a thicker fluid than the latter, allowed me to obtain that range for focussing the illuminator which is necessary to obtain light ground. I then experimented with lamplight, and found that the more powerful the light the more distinct the striae appeared, and that the Dallinger lamp gave the best results; but that even by the light of a lamp having a wick of only half an inch broad, the markings were plainly shown. The illumination obtained in this way, unmodified sunlight included, has the advantage of not being by any means intense enough to be painful to the eyes, and as required, any of the colours of the spectrum may be used without the slightest difficulty. The blue and violet rays are especially agreeable to the eye. The light becomes most dispersed when the narrow side of the wick is used, and when the rectangular prism is turned a little on its vertical axis so that the rays do not fall quite perpendicularly on one of its sides.

Finally, I will give a few practical instructions for this method. I place the lamp to the left, and when using the ordinary form of Möller's Probeplatte, or a slide having a balsamed valve of A. pellucida lying horizontally on it, I turn the reflex illuminator so that its polished off face looks as it were to the right, the edge of the wick facing the mirror or rectangular prism at the tail-piece. After having racked up the reflex illuminator until its plane top is level with the stage, and after having centred the dot by means of a 2/3-inch objective, I put a few drops of castor-oil, or better, of glycerine, which is easier cleaned off by water, on the top of the illuminator, taking care that no air-bells are formed, and that none of the fluid flows down the polished off face. I then illuminate as for dark ground, and focus for the object, generally first for one of the larger diatoms on the Platte, using of course one of those large-angled immersion lenses which I classed among No. 3. By lowering the reflex illuminator or the immersion paraboloid from the one-twentieth to the one-thirtieth of an inch, the ground becomes light, the red appearing to the right and the blue of the spectrum to the left of the field. By a little more focussing of the condenser and adjusting of the mirror or rectangular prism, or by altering the position of the flame slightly, the best result is soon obtained. I invariably use the edge of the flame for throwing light on the mirror or on the rectangular prism, and often I remove the latter altogether and place the flame in the axis of the field lens of the reflex illuminator. A white field is best obtained in this way. Sometimes I place the microscope horizontally on a pedestal from 4 to 6 inches high above the level of the table, and I find this a very convenient position for observing. By interpolating a bull's-eye condenser, convex side towards flame, and by using the broad side of the wick, the prismatic colours disappear and the field becomes white. By turning the microscope a little to the right or to the left on its vertical axis the best illumination is often very easily secured. The light from the reflex illuminator should fall under an angle of about 6° against the midrib of Amphipleura pellucida.

The reflex illuminator may also be used for the resolution of lined tests by transmitted light, especially sunlight when the objects are mounted dry and on the cover. In this way the lines on Amphipleura pellucida can be shown beautifully. I have also found that by transmitted sunlight the reflex illuminator may be used for the resolution of either balsamed or dry lined tests mounted on cover, without the use of any liquid medium whatever between the top of said apparatus and the under side of the slide. The value of this method is not confined to lined diatomaceous tests, but may become of great service for biological and other

The immersion objectives, with which I have succeeded in resolving the finest specimen of Amphipleura pellucida in balsam were those of Powell and Lealand's on the new formula, the one-quarter inch included, Tolles', and a series of Zeiss' from the one-eighth to the one-twentieth inch. I find that a power of about 600 diameters is requisite to separate the markings sufficiently, and that with a power of 1000 diameters they become quite visible to anyone, even on the finest specimens, some of which have resisted all efforts on the part of some of the best manipulators to resolve them. I also find a Ross's Kelner C eye-piece very useful for this purpose, as it gives plenty of light.

Mr. Wenham's ingenious reflex illuminator, whether if used for the purpose it was originally constructed, viz. for dark ground, or whether if put to what one might call its illegitimate use, viz. for light ground, becomes therefore one of the most powerful means of resolving lined tests mounted in balsam”.



Many thanks to Peter Hodds for providing information on the signed Adolf Schulze slide illustrated in Figure 1.



Annual Report and Transactions of the Glasgow Society of Field Naturalists (1875) “26th October, 1875. Messrs. Adolf Schulze, George Street, and J. S. Nairne, Winton Terrace, were elected members of the Society”, page 108

Annual Report and Transactions of the Glasgow Society of Field Naturalists (1875) Specimens exhibited, November 23, page 116

Annual Report and Transactions of the Glasgow Society of Field Naturalists (1876) Specimens exhibited, pages 164, 182 and 184

Annual Report and Transactions of the Glasgow Society of Field Naturalists (1876) Ordinary Members: “Adolf Schulze, 1 James Place, Hillhead”, page 224

The Australian Handbook, Shippers’ and Importers’ Directory (1888) Advertisement from Paul Schulze, Gordon and Gotch, London

Bracegirdle, Brian (1998) Microscopical Mounts and Mounters, Quekett Microscopical Club, London, pages 82 and 188, and plate 42-D

British Medical Journal (1891) Memoriam of Adolf Paul Schulze, Vol. 1, page 247

Edinburgh Gazette (1891) Notice of dissolution of Schulze, Paton and Company, March 3

English Mechanic and World of Science (1891) Memoriam of Adolf Paul Schulze, Vol. 52, page 440

Glasgow Commercial List (1877) “Schulze Paul, Yarn Merchant and agent, 223 East George-street, (established) 1867, (note) and at Manchester”, Seyd and Co., London

Glasgow Medical Journal (1883) Adeno. sarcoma of mamma amputated by Dr. Whitson, photomicrograph of section, printed by the Woodburytype Company, from a negative taken by Mr. Adolf Schulze, with Carl Zeiss' D.D., or 1/6-inch focus objective, Vol. 19, between pages 168 and 169

Hardwicke’s Science-Gossip (1876) Exchange offer from Adolf Schulze, Vol. 12, page 168

Journal of the Quekett Microscopical Club (1880) “(joined) Feb. 27, 1880, Schulze, Adolf, 1 St. James's-street, Hillhead-square, Glasgow”, Vol. 6

Journal of the Royal Microscopical Society (1889) “(joined) 1888 Schulze, Adolf, F.R.S.E., 2, Doune-gardens, Kelvinside, Glasgow

Post Office Directory of Glasgow (1886) “Schulze, Adolf, (of Paul Schulze), ho. 2 Doune gardens, Kelvinside .. Schulze, Paul, yarn merchant and agent, 223 George St., and at 19 Greenwood st, Manchester

Proceedings of the Natural History Society of Glasgow (1884) “(joined) 1879, Schulze, Adolph, 1 St. James’ Street, Hillhead”, Vol. 5

Schulze, Adolf (1875) On the microscope and microscopic illumination, Annual Report and Transactions of the Glasgow Society of Field Naturalists, pages 117-141

Schulze, Adolf (1876) Surirella gemma, Hardwicke’s Science-Gossip, Vol. 12, pages 159-160

Schulze, Adolf (1876) F.H. Wenham’s newest binocular arrangement for the highest powers, Hardwicke’s Science-Gossip, Vol. 12, pages 269-270

Schulze, Adolf (1878) Carl Zeiss’s a* ( 1 ¾ to 6 in.), and G (1-8th), and H (1-11th), and K (1-20th) immersion objectives, The English Mechanic and World of Science, Vol. 26, page 406

Schulze, Adolf (1878) An easy and simple method of resolving the finest-lined balsamed diatomaceous tests by transmitted lamplight, with special reference to Amphipleura pellucida, Journal of the Royal Microscopical Society, Vol. 1, pages 45-48

Schulze, Adolf (1886) The new apochromatic micro-objectives and compensating oculars of Dr. Carl Zeiss, Transactions of the Natural History Society of Glasgow, Vol. 2, pages 154-162

Schulze, Adolf (1887) On Abbe's apochromatic micro-objectives and compensating eye-pieces, made of the new optical glasses in the works of Dr. Carl Zeiss in Jena, with some general remarks on object glasses, Proceedings of the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow, Vol. 18, pages 28-40

Schulze, Adolf (1889) Photo-micrography (from The British Journal of Photography), Anthony’s Photographic Bulletin, Vol. 20, pages 556-557

Schulze, Adolf (1889) Photo-micrography (from The British Journal of Photography), Anthony’s Photographic Bulletin, Vol. 21, pages 145-148

Transactions of the Natural History Society of Glasgow (1891) Memoriam of Adolf Paul Schulze, Vol. 3, pages lxii-lxiii

Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1887) “(joined) 1887, Schulze, Adolf P., 2 Doune Gardens, Kelvinside, Glasgow”, Vol. 33, page 699