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Postcard of Microscope.
© National Museums Scotland


This simple brass compass microscope dates from the late 18th century. It is unsigned.

The instrument has a silver mirror around the objective lens which helps to illuminate the object, and this is called a lieberkuhn after its German inventor who demonstrated it to the Royal Society in 1740. The handle is made of ivory.

Because of the hinge at the bottom and the two arms which stem from it, this type of microscope has been referred to by modern historians as a 'compass' microscope, from its similarity to a pair of draughtsman's compasses.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-102-675-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1925.6.1
Date: Late 18th century
Material: Brass, ivory handle
What: Microscope, compass
Subject: 22. PHYSICS, Light (Departmental Classification)
Description: Late eighteenth century compass microscope in brass with an ivory handle, fitted with a Lieberkuhn eyepiece and with a spike to hold the specimen, unsigned, late 18th century
  • Turner, G. L'E. Collecting microscopes. London: 1981, pp 28-9 
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