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made in London

Postcard of Microscope.
© National Museums Scotland


This brass achromatic compound and simple microscope, 'Pritchard model', was made by Hugh Powell of London, but retailed and signed by R.B. Bate between 1836 and 1840. The signature on an instrument does not mean that it was necessarily made by that person, or even in his workshop. Often, makers sold their instruments to larger organisations, possibly even in another place, and the retailer would have their name engraved on them.

In outline the microscope follows the design published by Andrew Pritchard in 1834, and is fitted with a wedge-actuated fine-focus, first described by Powell in 1836. The microscope has two dividing objectives, two single lenses and three eyepieces. Among the accessories are spring and supra-stages, a phial holder stage, a Wollaston substage condenser, a combined micrometer and livebox, a frogplate and a water trough. These, and the fitted case are not shown.

Hugh Powell (1799-1883) appears to have worked as a supplier for the instrument trade before he set up on his own and began, in 1840, to sign his microscopes 'Hugh Powell'. In 1842 he took his brother-in-law, Peter Lealand, into partnership, and thereafter instruments were signed 'Powell & Lealand'. After his death, his son Thomas ran the business, which survived on a small scale up until the First World War. The retailer, Robert Brettell Bate, had premises in the Poultry, off Fleet Street, until his death in 1847.

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Online ID: 000-180-000-922-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0504: National Museums Scotland Part 2
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  
Date: Between 1836 and 1840
  • For R.B. Bate, see McConnell, Anita. R.B. Bate of the Poultry 1782-1847: the Life and Times of a Scientific Instrument Maker. London, 1993. 
  • Frank, A. and R.H. Nuttall. Early Achromatic Microscopes by Hugh Powell. Microscopy 32 (1972), pp 196-207. 
  • Nuttall, R.H. Microscopes from the Frank Collection 1800-1860. Jersey, 1979, p 38. 
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