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Birmingham Museum's Conservation Studio selects Meiji microscopes to study the Staffordshire Hoard
Meiji Techno UK, one of the UK's leading suppliers of light microscopes and accessories, together with one of their leading dealers, Mazurek Optical Services, is pleased to announce the installation of a suite of new microscopes featuring the RX stereo microscope with an Infinity camera and software analysis system. These will be used in the study of the Staffordshire Hoard, the most significant archaeological find ever uncovered in the West Midlands region.
Deborah Cane, the Collections Care Officer at Birmingham Museum, has been seconded for two years to leading a team of conservators to record the process of conservation cleaning and preparing for exhibition the collection of pieces collectively known as the Staffordshire Hoard. This is the first and most important step: to conserve the Hoard so that it is materially stable thereby allowing the effective investigation of the material by scientists, archaeologists and historians.
The Hoard was found in July 2009 by Terry Herbert, a metal detector enthusiast decided to try his luck in farmland close to his home near Lichfield, Staffordshire. Following initial assessment, the Hoard was found to contain 97 sword pommels (25% of the sword pommels are of a cloisonne design with 60% constructed from fine filigree), 354 sword and dagger hilt fittings, 9 pyramids, 4 pommel rings, 2 buttons and a large amount of fragments. The Hoard totals 5.094 kilos of gold, 1.442 kilos of silver including approximately 3,500 cloisonne garnets (51 loose) and a large number of fragments some of which are consistent with those found on helmets of this period. In total, the Hoard contains 3,490 pieces/fragments and has no comparator in terms of content and quantity in the UK or mainland Europe.
With three permanent staff and up to another four on professional placements, the studio, requires ergonomically designed microscopes that deliver high optical performance at a reasonable price. Having used other suppliers prior to her move to Birmingham, Deborah Cane says that "the Meiji microscopes are simply nice to work with and give my team exactly what they need in terms of comfort and resultant images. Using the Infinity camera gives us the time-saving advantage of an inclusive metrology package that gives measurements directly on the images as they are recorded. We get terrific support from Steve Mazurek and his company in terms of training and advice on imaging which really is important when running a time sensitive project such as conserving the Hoard."
The Hoard is now on public display in Gallery 16 at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in Chamberlain Square in the heart of the city.
To learn more about the products and services in light microscopy, visit Meiji's web site at www.meijitechno.co.uk.