Henry Dalton was born in 1829 in Bury St.Edmunds, England, where his father was a prominent physician. Growing up with a passion for science, young Henry was drawn especially to microscopy which was enjoying modest popularity among the lay public at the time. By his mid-thirties, Dalton was well-skilled as a micrographer and had gained renown among European naturalists for his intricate preparations constructed entirely from diatoms and the scales of butterfly wings. Contracting tuberculosis in 1863, Dalton began a period of extensive Continental travels in an effort to improve his flagging health - travels which served to increased his reputation as a master craftsman.
In addition to creating his micromosaics, Dalton took great joy in instructing young micrographers in the ways of preparing mounted slides, and was known for his generosity with time and enthusiasm. Eventually, Dalton settled in France where he inexplicably changed his name to "Harold" while maintaining his ardor for microscopy until his death at age 82.
The microscopic creations of Henry Dalton were the fruit of extraordinary skill, remarkable patience and a keen aesthetic eye. After devising a design, Dalton would collect numerous butterfly wings of multiple species from all over the world. Carefully striping off individual scales with a needle, each scale was then sorted by color, size, and shape creating a extensive palette. Boar bristle in hand, Dalton would then transfer each scale to the slide. Positioning a scale was a laborious task, one that required the use of a microscope and a small tube through which he would breathe to gently move each scale over the glass to its appointed position. Once in place, Dalton would crush a small tiny spot of the scale against the slide, allowing internal oils to act as a natural adhesive. Many of Dalton's remarkable micromosaic preparations would require as many as one thousand individual scales.