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made in London

Postcard of Microscope.
© National Museums Scotland


The Council of the Microscopical Society of London (later the Royal Microscopical Society) asked the three major makers of microscopes in London to produce instruments, to see which could produce the best mechanical stand. This is an example of that produced by James Smith of London, whose example numbered '43' was presented to the Society in November 1841: this example is numbered '35'. It is typical of those Smith supplied to the medical scientist Joseph Lister and the geologist Henry Clifton Sorby.

The compound achromatic microscope has a monocular body tube supported along its entire length and connected to the stage by a curved limb. Made of brass, it is signed on the three-toed base 'Jas. Smith, London' and 'No. 35'. It comes in a large carrying case, with drawers of accessories on either side of the stowed instrument (not shown).

James Smith (1786-1869) appears to have worked exclusively for the trade until 1839, when he was assisted into business by Joseph Jackson Lister, with whose nephew Richard Beck he formed a partnership in 1847.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-001-016-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.1980.299.7
Date: 1841
What: Casting, fine focus / microscope
Description: Fine focus casting for a Model 47 microscope in two parts
  • For Smith, see G. L'E. Turner. The Great Age of the Microscope. Bristol and New York, 1989, p 171; and p 172 for a similar instrument. 
  • R.H. Nuttall. The Development of the Microscope 1800-1851. Microscopy 35 (1987), pp 591-604; Nuttall. James Smith, and Smith and Beck: 1839-1852. Part 1 The Microscopes. Microscopy 36 (1989), pp 288-300, 317. 
  • [Ed.] Description of Mr James Smith's Newly Constructed Achromatic Microscope. Microscopic Journal 2 (1842), pp 1-6. 
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