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Postcard of Microscope.
© National Museums Scotland


This compound microscope became a popular instrument with amateurs in the later part of the 19th century. However, it was also used seriously by medical students, and applied to industrial uses. This example appears to have been constructed as an inspection instrument for a special purpose, now unknown. In some respects it resembles a French instrument featured in the literature, and it may well have been fitted with standard-sized rectangular apertures used for an application such as thread-counting in the textile industry.

The brass and oxidised bronze microscope is on a vertical pillar advanced by a screw over a flat base plate, engraved 'J. LIZARS/GLASGOW/208'. The instrument now lacks an objective, eyepiece and stage apertures.

John Lizars (1810-79) was born in Berwick-upon-Tweed and appears to have run a peripatetic optical business in various centres before settling in Glasgow. The firm continues today, still in family hands, having branches all over Scotland, although the business is now mostly ophthalmic opticians' work.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-002-475-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.1980.223
Date: Around 1880
c. 1880
Material: Brass. Inscription: J. LIZARS / GLASGOW / 208
Dimensions: 188 mm H
Who: Arthur Frank Collection of Scottish Scientific Instruments
J. Lizars, Glasgow (Maker)
Where: Scotland, Lanarkshire, Glasgow
Description: Compound microscope in brass and oxidised brass, on a vertical pillar, numbered 208 and signed by J. Lizars of Glasgow, c. 1880
  • T.N. Clarke, A.D. Morrison-Low and A.D.C. Simpson (1989): "Brass and Glass 
  • T.N. Clarke, A.D. Morrison-Low and A.D.C. Simpson, Brass & Glass: Scientific Instrument Making Workshops in Scotland (Edinburgh, 1989), 304. 
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