Box (detail), for reflecting circle

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probably made in Paris

Postcard of Box (detail), for reflecting circle.
© National Museums Scotland

Box (detail), for reflecting circle

Reflecting circles were used to measure angles necessary for finding longitude. This detail shows the brass plate on the wooden box for a 'Borda' type brass reflecting circle. The circle was made around 1800, probably by E. Lenoir, a scientific instrument maker based in Paris.

The brass plate has the inscription 'DEPOT DE LA MARINE/CERCLE A REFLEXION/LENOIR/229'. The box is stamped '229', and the instrument engraved with signature and the same number.

The reflecting circle was devised in the 1750s by the German astronomer Tobias Mayer (1723-62). A number of improvements to the instrument were published by the Chevalier de Borda (1733-1799) and gave it its alternative name.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-001-172-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.1939.1
Date: Around 1820
Material: Brass circle / wooden box. Inscription: No. 229
Dimensions: 11.00" / 6.00" / 12.50" x 12.50" x 3.50"
What: Reflecting circle / telescope / box / accessory
Subject: 9. NAVIGATION (Departmental Classification)
22. PHYSICS, Light (Departmental Classification)
Who: Borda (Eponym)
Lenoir, Paris (Instrument maker)
Where: EUROPE: France, Paris
Description: Borda reflecting circle, No. 229, by Lenoir, Paris, with brass circle, 6 inch telescope and removable handle, in a wooden box containing a variety of accessories
  • Daumas, M., Scientific Instruments of the 17th and 18th Centuries and their Makers. London: 1972, pp 129, 183-7, 318-9 
  • Edinburgh Encyclopaedia 1830 Vol VI pp 484-92 
  • Turner, A. J. From Pleasure and Profit to Science and Security: Etienne Lenoir and the transformation of precision instrument-making in France 1760-1830. Cambridge: 1989, pp 30, 51-60 
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