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Postcard of Microscope.
© National Museums Scotland


This early compound microscope dates from the late 17th century. It is unsigned but its lenses were possibly made by the London optician John Yarwell (1648-1712). It has the royal coat-of arms on it (not shown here).

The microscope has a walnut body and a brass stand. The leather covering on the barrel is stamped with gold-impressed tooling, a contemporary bookbinding decoration, characteristic of London optical instruments of the period. The wing jamb screw and the eye lens cup are early 20th century replacements.

Robert Hooke (1635-1703), Curator of Experiments to the Royal Society, was a pioneer of the construction and use of the microscope. He was probably the first person to design a side-pillar compound microscope like the one pictured here.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-104-218-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1937.131
Date: Late 17th century
Material: Walnut body, brass stand, leather. Inscription: Royal coat of arms
Dimensions: 14.00" L (body); 4.00" D (barrel)
Subject: 22. PHYSICS, Light (Departmental Classification)
Who: Marshall (Eponym)
Description: Marshall's microscope, walnut body and brass stand, with the royal coat of arms embossed on leather, late 17th century
  • Illustrated and discussed in Turner, G. L'E. Collecting Microscopes. London, 1981 pp 49-50 
  • Nuttall, R. H., 'A Marshall Microscope in the Royal Museum of Scotland' in Microscopy 35 (1987), pp 499-509 
  • Turner, G. L'E., 'Decorative tooling on 17th and 18th century microscopes and telescopes' in Essays on the History of the Microscope, Oxford: 1980, item 59 
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