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Italian Compound Microscope

This beautifully crafted eighteenth century Italian microscope is made from ivory, brass, and vellum. The model illustrated below was signed François Bailloù à Milan and has been redrawn from photographs of the original microscope, which is featured in Gerard Turner's excellent book Collecting Microscopes, a volume in Christie's International Collectors Series of books on antiques.

The turned ivory body tube contains an eye lens in the ocular position, and a bi-convex objective lens in the nosepiece. Focus is achieved by screwing the threaded body tube into or out of a circular brass plate that is supported by four decorated brass pillars. The central portion of the body tube is adorned with green vellum, which serves as a grip while focusing the microscope. Specimens are attached to a brass plate containing several openings to allow transmitted illumination. The base of the microscope is built with several circular brass plates that are separated by spacers, allowing the specimen holder to be secured into place while observing various specimens.


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