Catalogue Number: 1898
Hand held arc perimeter
Sub-Category: Perimeter, visual field analyser
Year Of Publication/Manufacture: 1930s
Time Period: 1900 to 1939
Place Of Publication/Manufacture: England
Description Of Item: Hand held perimeter, with black painted wooden handle, adjustable chin rest and eye rest and a black metal rotating arc with a circular scale indicating the orientation of the arc. The arc is marked out in white numerals indicating degrees of angle from the fixation point. This scale carries the manufacturers name and the words MADE IN ENGLAND. The fixation point is the patient's own eye as reflected in a small circular mirror fixed at the pivot point of the arc.
Historical Significance: Gowllands is long standing maker of opthalmic instruments. It was founded by William Gowlland in 1897, at the age of 27, in premises over a wheelwright's shop in Liverpool Road, making, amongst other things, Juler Ophthalmoscopes. He was joined by his brothers Charles and Egbert. During the following years the product range widened to incorporate retinoscopes and other ophthalmic instruments. In 1908 the mass production of ophthalmic lenses was commenced. Charles became 'erratic' and Egbert left the company and the company was brought to bankruptcy. The liquidators re-installed Egbert who, assisted by his son ran the business. In1916/17 there was a company rationalisation and otoscopes and laryngoscopes (See cat Nos 1185 and 1187) were added in order to supply the general medical market and the company prospered. However, concentration on price rather than quality was a bad decision. Gowllands' cheap instruments could not compete with quality instruments. By the early 1960s, after the death of Egbert, it was evident that the product range needed to be brought up to date and improved; but by then too much skill and expertise had disappeared and, despite introduction of new products, it was never possible to match the resources and experience of the larger competitors. However, from the 1960s to 1998 the company was profitable although not soundly based. In 1998 Gowllands Limited was sold to Medicamenta of the Czech Republic. In May 2008, its name was changed to "Gowllands Medical Devices Ltd".
How Acquired: Donated by British Optical Association Museum
Date Acquired: May 2011
Location: Archive room. West wall. Unit 6 Overhead display