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made in London

Postcard of Microscope.
© National Museums Scotland


This achromatic compound monocular brass microscope was made in London in 1841 or 1842. By 1840, three new instrument makers, exclusively manufacturing microscopes, had emerged in London, who had learned how to make successful achromatic instruments. Through J.J. Lister's optical theory and their own remarkable skill, their microscopes were the best available optically. One of these, Andrew Ross (1798-1859), had long been involved in the trade, and he formed Andrew Ross & Co. in 1837, probably with financial assistance from Lister.

The microscope has a circular weighted base, a short pillar with rotating bearing, and a Lister-limb with mechanical stage with rotating upper plate and substage wheel of three stops. There are two contemporary objectives, and three eyepieces. Accessories include a lieberkuhn, bull's eye condenser and stage forceps. It came in a fitted mahogany case (not shown). It is signed on the body tube: 'Andw. Rofs / 33 Regent St. / Piccadilly / No 30.'

Andrew Ross's partnership ceased at some point in 1841. Subsequently, he began numbering his instruments: no 33 is in the collection of the Royal Microscopical Society, and is very similar to this example. It is also similar to the design illustrated by Ross in the article he wrote on the microscope for the Penny Cyclopaedia in 1839. In 1843, he introduced a Y-shaped foot, with bar-limb, which subsequently became known as the 'Ross model' microscope.

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Online ID: 000-180-000-942-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: 1841 or 1842
  • For a similar instrument, see Turner, G.L'E. The Great Age of the Microscope: the Collection of the Royal Microscopical Society through 150 Years. Bristol, 1989, pp 154-5. 
  • For Ross: see Turner, G. L'E. Hugh Powell, James Smith and Andrew Ross: Makers of Microscopes. In: J. North (ed.), Mid-Nineteenth Century Scientists. Oxford, 1969, pp 104-138. 
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