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In Victorian Britain, the microscope was a portal to new micro-worlds. It was used for rigorous empirical research on nature and to inspire fanciful ideas about mysterious magical worlds.

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Some specimens lent themselves to be investigated as whole objects. Yet, some specimens need to be made durable,  prepared and preserved for research under the microscope.

This was a difficult process and didn''s relationship with nature. A drop from the pond or even some tea could reveal a true ‘monster soup’ as shown in this satirical illustration.

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'' satirical engraving showing a lady discovering the quality of the Thames water, by William Heath (1828)  © Science Museum Pictorial / Science & Society Picture Library.

Microscopic images helped scientists and artists alike, with scientists developing knowledge of the natural world and artists using this as a source of inspiration.

It is no coincidence that during the high craze of microscopy, alongside a more detailed description of insects, imaginative depictions of fairies appeared with detailed and colourful butterfly wings.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Cover and page from ''  by Louisa Lane Clarke (1887)

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