• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 5429

    Travel, Science & Natural History

    24 September 2008, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 31

    An English Culpeper-type microscope


    Price Realised  


    An English Culpeper-type microscope
    Matthew Loft, circa 1740
    unsigned, but of Loft's first form of Culpeper microscope with single piece tripod legs, diamond-shaped in cross-section with ornamental ridges; the eyepiece held in brass mount (later) with threaded lignum vitae ring, lignum vitae draw-tube covered with green vellum decorated with three pairs of gilt lines (cell for field lens lightly cracked), stained ivory objective screwing onto lignum vitae nosepiece, body-tube of pasteboard covered with black-polished shagreen (three longitudinal cracks), stage with circular aperture, tripod legs retaining some of their original gilding supporting the main body via a brass ring (one replacement screw), on a restored stepped octagonal base (four replacement screws, fitting for original mirror replaced handle to draw replaced) treated with creosote(?), accessories include four ivory slides, modern bullseye condenser, four (of five) original stained ivory objectives marked 1,2,4,5 to correspond to lines drawn onto the green vellum by a previous owner. In original pyramid case (missing key and brass handle).
    17½in. (44.5cm.) high in case

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Court is quick to attribute the unsigned microscopes of this type to Loft, but Turner (1989, p.36) is more cautious. An example of Loft's second-form Culpeper-type microscope is kept at the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford (Inv. no. 54047), and retains a signed printed label pasted in the accessory drawer.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Clay, R.S. & Court, T.H. The History of the Microscope (London, 1975), ch. VI
    Turner, G.l'E. The Great Age of the Microscope (Bristol, 1989), p.36