An early Compound Microscope

Contributed by Museum of the History of Science

An early Compound Microscope

The museum has a magnificent collection of microscopes including some fine examples of early compound microscopes such as this one made by John Marshall, one of the leading optical instrument makers of the day, in about 1715. It has pasteboard tubes covered with red gold-tooled leather and vellum, lignum vitae (a type of wood) lens mounts, and an oak, ebony and walnut base. The model is Marshall's 'New Invented Double Microscope' announced in 1704 which he advertised for the purpose of 'viewing the circulation of the blood'. For this purpose, the instrument comes with various accessories including a stage with a glass plate and a trough "to be put on the Fish [i.e. a live fish whose tail fin was to be examined "that the Circulation of the Blood may be seen"], to hinder it from springing away, and moving his Tail out of the Light" (John Harris's, Lexicon Technicum ... (London, 1704)).

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