This is an example of the Model Spectroscope that John Browning (ca. 1831-1925), the first important English spectroscope maker, introduced in 1865 and was still offering at the end of the century. It has two dense glass prisms, a collimator, and a viewing telescope with two eyepieces. A small reflecting prism next to the slit allows two spectra to be seen at the same time. One quarter of the horizontal circle is graduated to 20’ and read by Vernier and magnifier. The inscription on the circle reads “John Browning, London.” The instrument fits into a polished mahogany case.
John Putnam Marble (1897-1955) was an analytical chemist who worked on the determination of geologic time under the auspices of the National Research Council, served as a volunteer Associate in Mineralogy with the Smithsonian Institution, and was remembered as “an amateur, one who cultivates his science from taste, without pursuing it for gain.” Marble owned this instrument, but was probably not the first to do so.
Ref: John Browning, How to Work with the Spectroscope (London, 1874), p. 5.
W. F. Foshag, “Memorial of John Putnam Marble” published by the Mineralogical Society of America.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Browning, John
telescope: 9 3/4 in x 14 in; 24.765 cm x 35.56 cm
overall: 17 in x 9 1/2 in x 9 in; 43.18 cm x 24.13 cm x 22.86 cm
place made
United Kingdom: England, London
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Science & Scientific Instruments
Science & Mathematics
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Estate of John Putnam Marble
Additional Media

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