After a fire destroyed his shop at Canastota, N.Y., Charles A. Spencer moved to Geneva, N.Y., and made microscopes for the Geneva Optical Company. This example inscribed “C. A. SPENCER & SONS / FOR GENEVA OPT. CO. / NO. 32” is a compound monocular with rack-and-pinion focus, circular rotating stage, inclination joint, sub-stage mirror on Lister limb, and tri-leg base. The lenses have been lost.
Marshall Ewell, a Chicago lawyer and microscopist, informed the Smithsonian in 1909 that he had seen this microscope in the hands of Herbert R. Spencer. He also said that, after Spencer’s death, his widow had sent it to him with the request that, in time, he would forward it to the Smithsonian.
Ref: Oscar W. Richards, “Charles A. Spencer and His Microscopes,” Rittenhouse 2 (May 1888): 70-81.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Geneva Optical Company
C. A. Spencer & Sons
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
black (overall color)
average spatial: 39 cm x 13.5 cm x 18 cm; 15 3/8 in x 5 5/16 in x 7 1/16 in
place made
United States: New York, Geneva
associated place
United States: Illinois, Chicago
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Science & Scientific Instruments
Science & Mathematics
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Marshall Ewell

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.