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made in London

Postcard of Microscope.
© National Museums Scotland


This brass achromatic compound binocular microscope was made in London in 1858 to 1859. 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 firm survived until about 1910. The bar-limb design was first published in 1843.

The microscope has four objectives and eight eyepieces. It comes in a fitted mahogany case (not shown) with accessories, including a Gillett condenser, low power spot condenser, high power spot condenser, Nicol prism polarise and analyser, large and small stage forceps, a livebox and a compressorium.

Ross's more expensive models followed the bar-limb pattern, and this stand, which was made as a monocular instrument just before Thomas Ross succeeded to the microscope side of his father's business in 1859 (the camera business was inherited by Andrew Ross's son-in-law, J.H. Dallmeyer), has subsequently been modified to binocular construction.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-000-931-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.1979.68
Date: 1858 - 1859
1858 or 1859
Material: Brass. Inscription: A. ROSS LONDON. 1759
Dimensions: 510 mm H
What: Microscope, achromatic compound binocular
Who: A. Ross, London (Maker)
Arthur Frank Microscope Collection
Where: England, London
Description: Large achromatic compound binocular microscope in brass, with 4 objectives, 8 eyepieces, accessories and case, signed by A. Ross of London, 1858 - 1859
  • 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. 
  • Nuttall, R.H. (1979): "Microscopes from the Frank Collection 1800 - 1860" 
  • Nuttall, R.H. Microscopes from the Frank Collection 1800-1860. Jersey, 1979, p 46. 
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