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Edward Scarlett Screw-Barrel Microscope

Edward Scarlett was a spectacle-maker in London who studied optics and designed microscopes in the early eighteenth century. The microscope illustrated below is featured in Gerard Turner's excellent book Collecting Microscopes, a volume in Christie's International Collectors Series of books on antiques.

This tiny microscope stands about 3 inches tall and has a wooden body tube that holds an eye lens and objective. Threads at the bottom of the brass stand fit into a condenser that is missing. Focus is achieved by screwing the threaded body tube up and down in the brass stand, which contains a split-ring specimen stage and spring beneath the body tube. The specimen is secured between the stage rings, and illuminated by holding the bottom of the microscope in front of a flame or directly at the sky on a bright day.

Microscopes having this design were very popular in early eighteenth century London, and models were developed by famous instrument makers such as Edmund Culpeper and George Sterrop. Accompanying most models was a tripod stand onto which the microscope body and stage were positioned. Some microscopes were supported by a simple handle screwed into the side of the body. Advanced models were equipped with a condenser and/or an articulated arm with a condensing lens.


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