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made in London

Postcard of Microscope.
© National Museums Scotland


This brass monocular achromatic compound 'Newly Constructed Achromatic Microscope' was probably made by Powell & Lealand between 1841 and 1845 in 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 instrument was first described in a pamphlet published in 1841 by the specialist London microscope makers Powell & Lealand, despite its name plate implying that it was made by the famous optical firm of Dollond.

The microscope has two pillars mounted on a tripod foot. It comes in a fitted mahogany case (not shown), with six objectives, two lieberkuhns and two eyepieces, and numerous accessories. Associated with it is another low-power microscope which can use the lenses, and also a leather case containing three boxes of microscope slides (also 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, the family dynasty of Dollond, had been pre-eminent optical instrument makers since the mid-18th century, but by the mid-19th, were beginning to live off their reputation.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-000-924-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.1979.55
Date: Between 1841 and 1845
Material: Brass. Inscription: Dollond London
Dimensions: 480 mm H
What: Microscope, achromatic compound
Who: Arthur Frank Microscope Collection
Dollond, London (Name engraved on microscope)
Powell and Lealand, London (Maker)
Where: England, London
Description: Achromatic compound microscope in brass, with 6 objectives, 2 lieberkuhns, 2 eyepieces, accessories and case, made by Powell and Lealand of London, and signed by Dollond of London, 1841 - 1845
  • For Dollond, see Porter, Roy, Simon Schaffer, J.A. Bennett and Olivia Brown. Science and Profit in 18th Century London. Cambridge, 1985, pp 29-30. 
  • For Powell: 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. 
  • Nuttall, R.H. Microscopes from the Frank Collection 1800-1860. Jersey, 1979, p 39. 
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