comprising the origins, mode of development, pathological and postmortem changes of its morphological elements in mammalian and oviparous vertebrates.
London : Smith, Elder, & Co., 1882.
Description :  l., [i]-xlv p., -274 p., [1 l.] p., [5 l. tbls.], [23 l. pl.] ; ill.: 4 woodcut figs., 196 photo figs., 5 tbls. (part fold.) ; 22 cm.
Photographs : Plates II-XXIII are photomicrographs, mostly blood cells.
Photographer : Richard Hill Norris.
Subject : Blood — Comparative cytology; Pathology.
At the period of the discovery of the new corpuscle I had so far succeeded as to be able to produce with great rapidity, with the high powers of the microscope, negatives of sufficient intensity for printing delicate transparencies upon glass.* I determined, therefore, to photograph the results I had obtained with the blood, feeling sure that this would be the best means of promoting and making known my views, for I can in this way place before my readers exact representations of what I have myself seen under the microscope, and thus, though they may be unskilled, or but partially skilled in the use of this instrument, they will be able to understand the precise bearings of the question as easily and with the same security as if they had devoted considerable time to its use, for while the absolute and relative sizes and forms of objects are rigidly maintained, the varying yellow tints are transmuted into corresponding degrees of light and shade, which every eye can estimate with equal correctness.
Many delicate things can also be observed in the photographs, which, owing to sameness of tint and the glare of light in the microscope, can only be seen with difficulty, and in some cases not at all in the original specimens.
This is the first time that micro-photography with the high powers has been pressed systematically into the service of research, and in addition to affording a new method or reagent of great delicacy in relation to colour, and light and shade, its advantages over the ordinary methods of delineation are so palpable that its use seems likely to constitute a new epoch in illustration, for there can be little doubt that it will m the long run be adopted by all microscopic investigators who desire their labours to have proper weight and permanent influence.
Photography appears to be the natural handmaid of Microscopy, and there can be no doubt that its universal adoption would lead to a rapid development of the sciences which depend upon this instrument for their elucidation, as it would enable each investigator to examine more perfectly, and weigh more critically, the results submitted to his judgment by fellow workers. It is well known that some of our leading scientific societies entertain a great distaste for papers on microscopic subjects. This feeling has no doubt originated in the great difficulties which beset such researches, for, in order to verify and adjudicate upon them honestly and properly, it is necessary to follow in the precise tracks of the investigator, a thing almost impossible without the special education in the new methods which the discoverer himself has alone achieved. The difficulties are in reality of such magnitude as to render it all but impossible, as things stand, for a wise and just decision upon the value of such papers to be made. The general use of micro-photography would undoubtedly in great part remove this difficulty, and as there are many important regions of science which can only be investigated by means of the microscope, it is most desirable that this lamentable state of things should soon cease to exist.—Page xxiii.
*Footnote, page xxiii—These glass transparencies were first exhibited publicly at a soiree of the Royal College of Physicians, London, in July, 1879; and in August of the same year I gave two demonstrations of the subject at the meeting of the British Medical Association held in Cork. 1. On the new morphological element of mammalian blood and its relation to the development of the red blood disc. 2. On the role of this new element in fibrin formation and coagulation generally. I had early in 1878 succeeded in obtaining negatives of sufficient intensity to print satisfactorily upon paper. An abstract of these discoveries was published in the ninth edition of Carpenter's Physiology in the article on the blood, and later on, in 1880, a second paper was read to the Birmingham Philosophical Society, bearing the title, " Further researches on the third corpuscular element of mammalian blood."
The discovery which forms the basis of this research was made during a protracted attempt to render photography available for the preservation of observations made with the high powers of the microscope.*
In order to carry out this object it was necessary to materially advance the existing state of micro-photography, and in the numerous preliminary experiments which this involved, a little blood drawn from the finger was commonly used as a test specimen. This led to the accumulation of a large number of photographs of human blood.
In some of these photographs corpuscles were observed which, although obviously in the same plane, were barely visible, and it was found that they could not be seen at all in the original specimens, however carefully looked for. Photography had therefore detected the existence of corpuscles which differed so little in refractive power and colour from the liquor sanguinis as to be invisible to the eye.—Page 1.
*Footnote, page 1—It was desired to do this for the following reasons:—
1. It removes the doubt and distrust which are inseparable from hand drawing and engraving, however carefully and conscientiously performed, by furnishing illustrations which are as indisputable in the shape of evidence as the original specimens from which the photographs are taken.
2. It preserves perishable results so perfectly as to allow extensive comparisons of specimens to be made with a minimum amount of labour and fatigue.
3. Its well-known power to make apparent minute differences of structure and colour, which baffle the most trained eye, give it a claim to be regarded as a new and valuable method of research in Histology and Pathology.
The gods of reputation have not been kind to Norris. Before entering medicine, he patented the first commercially successful dry collodion emulsion in 1856. It was an important advance in the science of photography, but the actinic sensitivity of the Norris plates was too slow to replace the more popular wet collodion process invented by Archer.
His 1878 research paper announcing the discovery of an "invisible third corpuscle" in blood was deeply flawed and the chemist, Alice M. Hart, made a hash of it with her review published in the London medical journal. The discovery of thrombocyte platelets is since credited to Giulio Bizzozero (1846-1901). Norris was exceptionally talented in both photography and microscopy and he illustrated his papers with original photomicrographs.
1.) Norris (1878), "On the Existence in Mammalian Blood of a New Morphological Element which explains the Origin of the Red Disc and the Formation of Fibrin." Proceedings of the Birmingham Philosophical Society. Birmingham: Cornish (vide: &raqup;&raqup;).
2.) Hart, Alice Marion (1880), "Norris on the discovery of an invisible or third corpuscular element in the blood." London medical record, London: Smith, Elder, & Co.; vol. viii., p. 2-4.
3.) Bizzozero, Giulio (1882), "Sur un nouvel élément morphologique du sang ches les mammifères et sur son importance dans la thrombose et la coagulation." Archives Italiennes de biologie.