Accession No


Brief Description

glass botanical models of pathological fungi and photographic plates, by Dr. W. A. R. Dillon Weston for demonstration purposes, plus framed photograph of Dr. Dillon Weston, English, 1/2 20th Century


England; Cambridgeshire


Dillon Weston, W. A. R.


natural history; demonstration

Earliest Date

Jan. 1, 1930

Latest Date

Dec. 31, 1953

Inscription Date


glass; organic (dried moss)


Largest models measure around 250mm in height

Special Collection


Donated on 18/01/2001. These models were given to the University of Cambridge School of Agriculture in about 1954 and passed to the Department of Applied Biology when the School of Agriculture was closed. They were intended for the Whipple when Applied Biology closed in 1989 but no room was found for them at the time and they went on loan to the Cambridgeshire College of Agriculture and Horticulture in Milton.


Description Notes

A large collection of hand-made glass microfungi by Dr. W.A.R. Dillon Weston. The models are of microscopic fungi that cause diseases in fruits and vegetable crops and were produced from the 1930s until Dr. Dillon Weston’s sudden death in 1953.

The models are of two different types. The majority are of microscopic fungi that are a cause of disease in plants, modelled at a magnification of between 20-800 times. Individual models of this type vary from 50 to 250mm high and are generally made of clear, uncoloured glass, with coloured glass used where necessary.

The other type of model represents larger fungi, vegetables undergoing fungal parasitism or stages in seedling infection. Some of these models are of natural size, whilst others are slightly smaller sized.

Some models still have jewellers tags attached to them from a previous exhibition. Models vary in condition; their exceptionally fragile nature means some are damaged and are prone to breakage.

Also, 5826.95, a box containing eight photographic plates showing the models on display. Box has an: ‘ILFORD ORDINARY PLATES’ label, with ‘GLASS MODELS’ on a handwritten label stuck over it.

Framed black and white photograph (5826.96) of Dr. Dillon Weston pictured with the model of Bremia lactucae. This photograph was taken by John S. Murray of St. John’s College, Cambridge in 1952. It was included alongside an interview with Dillon Weston in Varsity, the Cambridge Student newspaper, in 1953.

Complete list of models (see object history file for more information):

5826.01 Albugo candida
5826.02 Helminthosporium (Dreschslera graminis)
5826.03 Phytophthora infestans
5826.04 Penicillium
5826.05 Basidiospores
5826.06 Mycogone perniciosa
5826.07 Erysiphe graminis
5826.08 Erysiphe graminis
5826.09 Phytophthera infestans on a leaf
5826.10 Ascospores
5826.11 Puccinia graminis
5826.12 Puccinia graminis
5826.13 Alternaria brassicae
5826.14 Pestalotia
5826.15 Monilia fructigena
5826.16 unknown fungus
5826.17 Pilobolus
5826.18 Fusarium
5826.19 Verticillium
5826.20 Paecilomyces
5826.21 Phoma lingam
5826.22 Erysiphe graminis
5826.23 Helminthosporium (Drechslera graminis)
5826.24 Bremia lactucae
5826.25 Botrytis cinerea
5826.26 Erysiphe graminis
5826.27 Puccinia graminis cluster cup
5826.28 Mucor
5826.29 Rhizopus
5826.30 Rhizopus
5826.31 Mucor
5826.32 Pythium ultimum
5826.33 ? Bremia lactucae
5826.34 ? Possibly parts of phytophthera
5826.35 Lycoperdon
5826.36 Xylaria hypoxylon
5826.37 Cantherellus cibarius
5826.38 Geoglossum olivaceum
5826.39 Lycoperdon
5826.40 Clavaria
5826.41 unknown fungus
5826.42 Geoglossum
5826.43 Mucor
5826.44 ? Small mushroom growing in grass
5826.45 unknown fungus
5826.46 Geoglossum
5826.47 Spathularia
5826.48 Cantherellus cibarius
5826.49 Pilobolus
5826.50 Pilobolus
5826.51 Discomycetes
5826.52 Discomycetes
5826.53 ? Sclerotina
5826.54 Cordyceps
5826.55 Cordyceps
5826.56 Clavaria
5826.57 Sclerotina trifoliorum
5826.58 Sclerotina trifoliorum
5826.59 Sclerotina trifoliorum
5826.60 Chlorosplenium aeruginascens
5826.61 Geoglossum
5826.62 Cordyceps
5826.63 Sclerotina trifoliorum
5826.64 Geoglossum
5826.65 ? Pythium
5826.66 Cordyceps
5826.67 unknown fungus
5826.68 unknown fungus
5826.69 Chlorosplenium aeruginascens
5826.70 Xylaria
5826.71 Discomycetes
5826.72 Cantherellus ciborius
5826.73 Saprolegnia
5826.74 Pilobolus
5826.75 Tilletia caries
5826.76 ? Sclerotinia trifoliorum
5826.77 Dacrymyces
5826.78 Cordyceps
5826.79 Cordyceps
5826.80 Alternaria tenuis
5826.81 Claviceps purpurea
5826.82 Discomycete
5826.83 Carrot infected with Sclerotinia
5826.84 Puccinia graminis teleutospore
5826.85 Carrot infected with ? Helicobasidium purpureum
5826.86 Carrot infected with ? Helicobasidium purpureum
5826.87 unknown fungus on plant seedlings
5826.88 Damping off of seedlings
5826.89 Sclerotium cepivorum
5826.90 Root vegetable infected with unknown fungus
5826.91 Root vegetable infected with unknown fungus
5826.92 Model of snake on dried moss
5826.93 Model of snake on dried moss
5826.94 Model of snake on dried moss
5826.95 box of photographic plates showing the models on display
5826.96 framed photograph of Dillon Weston


Ruth Horry; 'Glass models of fungi'; Explore Whipple Collections online article; Whipple Museum of the History of Science; University of Cambridge; 2008:


Dr. W.A.R. Dillon Weston spent all of his professional life in Cambridge. After obtaining his degree in Natural Sciences at St. Catharine’s College, Dr. Dillon Weston gained employment as a mycologist (an expert in the study of fungi) at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. Ministry Pathologists at that time were stationed at universities, where teaching and supervision of students were included as part of their duties.

He began making models in glass, mostly of plant disease fungi, in 1936. Simple tools were used to make the models: pliers, a Bunsen burner and imported glass from Czechoslovakia. The majority were made during the early hours of the morning at his home, Howe Farm in Cambridge. However, as Dr. Dillon Weston became more enthusiastic about his hobby, he also produced some delicate pieces during summer vacations with his family to Frinton-on-Sea between 1937-1939. These fragile models then had to make a careful journey back to Cambridge by car.

Dr. Dillon Weston’s model making declined during the war years, as he became progressively busier. He was appointed as Principal Plant Pathologist for the Eastern Province of the National Agricultural Advisory Service in 1946. Tragically, Dr. Dillon Weston died suddenly of a heart attack in 1953, aged only 54.

The glass fungi models were exhibited to the public on many occasions, a notable few being at the Royal Show, on a television broadcast from Alexandra Palace and at the Ford Motor Company showroom in London.

After the death of Dr. Dillon Weston, the models were given to the University School of Agriculture. Some were exhibited in the School, however, at that time, none were labelled. It was a research student, Anna Snowdon, who arranged for the models to be identified. After labelling the fungi with jeweller’s tags, which can still be seen on some of the models, sixteen visiting plant pathologists and mycologists viewed the models and provided names for them.

The School of Agriculture transformed into the Department of Applied Biology in 1970-71 and moved into the Austin Building on Downing Street. The models were exhibited in a glass case in the area that became the Applied Biology tea-room. When the department of Applied Biology closed in 1989, there was initially a lack of space to exhibit them in the Whipple museum. Hence, the models were relocated on a long-term loan to the College of Agriculture and Horticulture, situated four miles outside of Cambridge at Milton. A glass cabinet was custom-built to house the models, which were then displayed in the College reception area. The glass fungi remained there until they were given as a gift to the Whipple Museum in January 2001.

Only one other collection of glass fungi models is known to exist, as part of the Blaschka collection in the Botanical Museum of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

From display labels, model 1:

Botrytis cinerea causes grey, furry mould on soft fruits such as strawberries. In dry conditions, grapes infected with the fungus become sweeter rather than mouldy. These grapes are used to make the dessert wine Sauternes.

The name Botrytis cinerea means ‘grapes like ashes’ in Latin, referring to the bunches of grape-like spores produced by the fungus.

model 2:

Bremia lactucae causes downy mildew in lettuces. Infected leaves become limp and yellowed, and eventually develop white cotton-like patches when the fungus produces new spores.

model 3:

Albugo candida is responsible for ‘white rust’ disease in the cabbage family of plants. It causes white blisters to appear on infected leaves. Albugo candida was known as a fungus when this model was made, but is now classified as a water mould. This model shows the organism 400 times larger than natural size.

model 18:

Phytophthora infestans causes potato blight, a devastating disease of potato plants. Model shows the organism magnified 200 times larger than natural size.

models 22, 23, 24:

Puccinia graminis causes rust diseases of cereal crops such as wheat and barley. During the early 20th century, rust diseases caused millions of pounds worth of damage to crops across the British Empire. Stem rust continues to threaten world wheat crops today.

model 25:

Series showing the symptoms of the fungal disease ‘damping off’ in seedlings.

models 26, 27, 28:

Puffball mushrooms are edible fungi found in woodland.

model 33:

The candle snuff fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon) grows in woodland on decaying wood. This model shows the fungus at natural size.

models 37, 38:

Chanterelles (Cantharellus cibarius) are edible fungi found in woodland, which are prized for their delicious taste. This model shows the fungi at natural size.

models 44, 45, 46, 47:

Cordyceps are a type of fungus that infects insects. The fungus eventually kills the insect and grows out of its body. These models show the cordyceps fungus growing out of dead caterpillars.

Created by: Ruth Horry on 02/08/2002


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