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Postcard of Microscope.
© National Museums Scotland


This solar projection microscope dates from the late 18th century. It is unsigned. The mirror side is placed outside, while the shutter plate is wedged into a window frame, and the projection part is placed inside a darkened room.

The microscope has a fixed microscope tube and a movable mirror which reflects the sunlight. The projection lens in the tube is a screw-barrel simple microscope. The accessories include six eyepieces, eight slides and an ivory box of cover plates.

The solar microscope acts like a camera obscura, projecting an enlarged image onto the opposite wall from the window in which it is fixed. The lens enlarges the object. First described in this form in 1742, it was popular until the mid 19th century.

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Online ID: 000-100-104-195-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1922.58
Date: Late 18th century
Material: Wooden case / ivory slides / ivory box / brass slide
What: Microscope, solar / case / eyepiece / slide / cover plate / box
Subject: 22. PHYSICS, Light (Departmental Classification)
Who: W. and S. Jones ?, England (Maker)
Where: England
Description: Solar microscope in a wooden case, complete with six eyepieces, small box of seven ivory slides, ivory box of cover plates, and a brass slide, unsigned, late 18th century
  • For a discussion of the history of this instrument, see Turner, G. L'E., Collecting microscopes. London: 1981, pp 95-100 
  • For other examples, see Turner, G. L'E., The Great Age of the Microscope: The Collection of the Royal Microscopical Society Through 150 Years. Bristol & New York: 1989, pp 222-42 
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