English microscope-manufacturing firm of the mid-19th C. Founded at the instigation of James Smith, maker of optical instruments, who had his laboratory at 6 Coleman Street in London. In 1826, Smith had built instruments for J.J. Lister (1786-1869). In 1847, Richard Beck (1827-66) went into business with Smith; in 1851, he was joined by his brother Joseph Beck (1829-91). After Smith's retirement in 1865, the firm stayed in the hands of the Beck brothers, changing its name to "R. & J. Beck."