This is a simple aquatic microscope that fits into and stands on a wooden case. It has a large stage, sub-stage mirror, and cylindrical stand, and is so designed that the observer can keep an eye on aquatic creatures as they move about. The form was introduced in the 1740s by the English optician, John Cuff, at the behest of a Swiss naturalist named Abraham Trembley. In 1752, Cuff modified the microscope for the naturalist, John Ellis. That instrument, known as “Ellis’s aquatic microscope” and made by others, remained popular for years.
Ref: Savile Bradbury, The Evolution of the Microscope (Oxford, 1967), pp. 97-98.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Physical Description
wood (case material)
brass (case material)
velvet (case material)
brass (microscope material)
ivory (microscope material)
glass (microscope material)
metal (microscope material)
average spatial: 4.5 cm x 13.7 cm x 8.9 cm; 1 3/4 in x 5 3/8 in x 3 1/2 in
microscope: 4 7/8 in x 1 3/8 in x 2 1/4 in; 12.3825 cm x 3.4925 cm x 5.715 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Science & Mathematics
Science & Scientific Instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of The Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of the State of Maryland
Additional Media

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