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A LATE 16TH-CENTURY FRENCH GILT BRASS AND BONE SIMPLE MICROSCOPE
A LATE 16TH-CENTURY FRENCH GILT BRASS AND BONE SIMPLE MICROSCOPE

signed 'Gregoire AParis'

Details
A LATE 16TH-CENTURY FRENCH GILT BRASS AND BONE SIMPLE MICROSCOPE
signed 'Gregoire AParis'
Two decorated and gilded brass paltes are mounted on a brass and blued-steel link to a bone handle. The plates are hinged below, and at the top is a screw and small knurled wheel, which allows the plate separation to be adjusted for focusing. Between the plates is a disc (1 in. (4.3 cm.) diam.) that has eight glass cells for specimens arranged around the circumference of the disc. The wheel is turned by the fingers to bring into view through an eye port the desired specimen. On the side opposite to the viewing port is a blued steel disc with three apertures, 1, 2 and 6 mm. in diameter, to vary the illumination from a white cloud or lamp
7 in. (17.8 cm.) long overall
Provenance
Rothschild inv. no. AR3112.
Literature
1905 Theresianumgasse Inventory, p. 187, no. 918.

COMPARATIVE LITERATURE:

M. Daumas, Les instruments scientifiques aux XVII et XVIII sicles, Paris, 1953.
S.B. Engelsman, ed., Antoni van Leeuwenhoek 1632-1723, Leiden, 1982.
M. Fournier, 'Huygens' Design for a Simple Microscope', Annals of Science, 46, 1989, pp. 575-96.

Lot Essay

Daumas refers to 'I. Grgoire Blois' as working at the end of the seventeenth Century. The microscope could have been produced by him after moving to Paris, or by a relative. 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. 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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