Compound monocular microscope, Europe, 1681-1720

1681-1720 in Europe

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Compound monocular microscope, German or Italian, c.1700. Front view, graduated grey background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Compound monocular microscope with green, tooled leather body tube, ornate base, German or Italian, c.1700

This ornate compound microscope was made around a century after the first prototype microscopes of this type were allegedly developed by Dutch eye-glass maker Zaccharias Janssen and his son Hans – this claim is the subject of some dispute. Unlike single lens microscopes, compound microscopes contain at least two lenses.

The tube of this microscope is covered in vellum – a fine type of parchment made from the skin of a young calf or goat. The mount is made from walnut. This microscope may have been a source of entertainment and used to study a wide variety of animals, vegetables and minerals. It is only since the 1800s that microscopes have become central to medicine.

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Microscopy (Wellcome)
Object Number:
body tube, horn, mountings, body tube, pasteboard, body tube, vellum, covered, tooled, body tube, walnut, lenses, glass, green and stand, walnut
monocular microscope
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
  • optical instrument
  • microscope
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
  • optical instrument
  • microscope

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