Under the microscope

In 2005 antiques expert Vic Burness got under one of the microscopes from the Dollond & Aitchison Loan Collection*...and on top of it...all over it in fact. This Culpeper-type from circa 1800 needed its jammed draw tube releasing, a thorough clean and relacquering and the manufacturing of a new rack and pinion adjustment mechanism. This latter was a highly specialised job. The first picture on the left shows where this vital part had become detached.

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Vic's work on the metalwork was complemented by another's work on the wooden base and accessory drawer. The combined efforts of two real craftsmen transformed a decayed object into something we were proud to show.

Microscope before restoration

Our first picture shows the metal tube with broken ratchet before restoration.

This object represents the transitional period (which extended across most of the 18th century) where microscopes ceased to be primarily decorative and the design of such instruments began to focus much more on functional accuracy and ease of use. They still had to look good but there was more of an assumption that the purchaser of such an instrument might actually want to use it and know how.

Vic Burness with the restored microscope

To learn more about the development of optical microscopes see our Virtual microscopy gallery

*N.B. This item from the Dollond loan is no longer on display at the BOA Museum and was returned to the lender in 2011.