Founded in 1873


What is the PMS?

Postal Microscopical Society

In Brief
The Postal Microscopical Society was established in 1873, with its primary aim the circulation of boxes of microscope slides and notes to the members. This is still the aim today when, after fluctuating fortunes over the years, a membership of around 240 contributes to a lively and friendly society.
In 1998 the PMS celebrated 125 years of existence. To commemorate this event, Klaus Kemp produced microscope slides using diatoms. A photomicrograph of one of the slides is shown below.

More Details

The Postal Microscopical Society was founded in 1873, with its principal objective, the circulation of boxes of microslides illustrating the work of members and/or that of professional mounters.This is still the main function of the Society. Members are organised into 'Circuits'. Boxes of microslides are circulated, accompanied by notebooks in which each recipient records his comments, criticism, and perhaps additional notes on the mounts themselves, before passing the box on to the next member on the 'circuit'. Membership of the Society is open of anyone interested in the Microscope.

Currently, boxes are despatched at three week intervals. Thus, each member receives roughly twenty boxes per year. As each box will normally contain 12 slides, each member has the opportunity to study many different microslides during the year. It is rare indeed to receive a box which does not provide a great deal of interest and enjoyment; often the difficulty is to part with it. Members are actively encouraged to participate, by making their own slides available for circulation, and this aspect is the 'life blood' of the Society. The members are mostly amateurs with an interest in the microscope and microscopy, so the subject matter varies greatly.

The essence of the Society is the friendly and helpful interchange of information. Help is offered to beginners and experts alike by the maintenance of a panel of experts with experience or specialised knowledge in particular fields. Thus, help is only a postage stamp/phone call/email away and the beginner has access to a mine of information.

'Balsam Post' the Newsletter of the Society, is now published four times a year. Written by the members for the members, this is another source of advice, news, help and guidance. The aim is to provide information but without too much scientific jargon. PMS help is intended to be practical and helpful. There are currently many back issues which can be supplied and these alone provide a mine of reading and helpful information. All members are encouraged to write for Balsam Post on any subject allied to microscopy and natural history. The cost of publication is covered by the general funds of the Society so all members receive the current editions free, by post of course. A comprehensive index is now available.

The current Library list can be found on the Library page, however the post of librarian has now ceased and the fate of the collection is under discussion by the committee. In due course members will be consulted on the best way to dispose of stock. Queries about any particular item should be sent to the secretary.

Meetings are held in May and October each year and the Annual general meeting is an opportunity is to combine this with a general meeting and exhibition of microscopy. This is the only non postal function that can be arranged, for with members spread all over the UK and beyond it is, inevitably, impossible for all members to make the journey.

If you are interested enough to contact the secretary you will receive the current edition of 'Balsam Post', hopefully this will encourage you to join.

It is appreciated that some members for various reasons, do not wish to participate in the slide circulation section of the Society. For those who wish to be associated, but just do not have the time, or for whatever other reason, do not wish to receive the boxes, an alternative 'Off Circuit' membership is available at a reduced fee. All the other facilities and advantages, including 'Balsam Post' are provided for these members.

Annual Subscriptions

On-circuit GBP24    Off-circuit GBP15     

Continental Europe
On-circuit GBP30    Off-circuit GBP21

Outside Europe
Off-circuit only GBP26

For more information please contact: PMS Secretary