A French Huygens-type simple microscope
A French Huygens-type simple microscope


A French Huygens-type simple microscope
De Pouilly, circa 1690
two decorative engraved brass plates mounted on a turned brass column, tapering into an ebony handle, the plates hinged on the column with a shaped screw at the top for focus, between the plates is a rotating wheel with space for eight lenses (now lacking), signed on reverse plate de pouilly a paris, in a fitted felt and silk lined leather case.
5in. (13cm.) long
Daumas, M. Scientific Instruments of the 17th & 18th Centuries & their Makers (London, 1989).
Turner, A. 'Microscopical Advances: The Posterity of Huygens' Simple Microscope of 1678', Endoxa. Series Filosóficas 19 (2005) pp.41-58.

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Lot Essay

Daumas records J Pouilly as having been established at his workship Au Compas Marin in the rue Dauphine in 1683; and mentions that in 1692 his microscopes are noted in Le Livre commode, but does not list any examples. More recently, Turner records six known examples by Pouilly and finds a signed instrument by him dated to 1680. He notes Pouilly's added decoration of Huygen's design as being a matter of commercial importance to the early history of the simple microscope.
This design of simple micriscope was first produced in 1678 by the Dutch physicist, Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695). The inspiration goes back a few years to Antoni Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723), who made for himself simple bead microscopes from 1670 [an example of which sold in these rooms, April 8th 2009 for £313,250]. The Huygens model was made and sold commercially in Paris by Michael Butterfield, who issued an advertisement in 1679 with the title L'usage du microscope fait avec une seule et tres-petit boulle de verre.

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