Microscope (detail), made by Hugh Powell and sold by R.B. Bate

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Postcard of Microscope (detail), made by Hugh Powell and sold by R.B. Bate.
© National Museums Scotland

Microscope (detail), made by Hugh Powell and sold by R.B. Bate

This photograph shows the signature on the foot of a microscope made by Hugh Powell and sold by R.B. Bate in London between 1836 and 1840.

The signature on the foot of the instrument reads: 'BATE London'. 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. For instance, this 'Pritchard model' microscope was made by Hugh Powell and sold by R.B. Bate of London. In outline it follows the design published by Andrew Pritchard in 1834, and is fitted with a wedge-actuated fine-focus, first described by Powell in 1836.

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.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-000-921-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  T.1979.54
Date: 1836 - 1840
Between 1836 and 1840
Material: Brass. Inscription: BATE London
Dimensions: 500 mm H
What: Microscope, achromatic compound / simple
Who: Arthur Frank Microscope Collection
Hugh Powell, London (Maker)
Pritchard (Eponym)
R.B. Bate, London (Name engraved on microscope)
Where: England, London
Description: 'Pritchard model' achromatic compound microscope in brass, with 2 dividing objectives, 2 single lenses, 3 eyepieces, accessories and case, made by Hugh Powell of London, and signed by Bate of London,
  • 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. (1979): "Microscopes from the Frank Collection 1800 - 1860" 
  • Nuttall, R.H. Microscopes from the Frank Collection 1800-1860. Jersey, 1979, p 38. 
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