This is a compound monocular with side pillar, focusing screw and sub-stage mirror that fits into and flips up from a rectangular wooden chest that also holds extra lenses, slides and other accessories. The “NAIRNE INVT ET FECIT LONDON” inscription on the stage refers to Edward Nairne, a prolific optician and instrument maker who began in business around 1750, who introduced this type of chest microscope around 1760, and began trading as Nairne & Blunt in 1773.
Ref: Directions how to use the Compound Microscope, as Made and Sold by Edward Nairne, at the Golden Spectacles fronting the North-Gate of the Royal-Exchange, London.
Description and Use of the Compound Microscope, As made and sold by Edward Nairne, At No. 20 in Cornhill, Opposite the Royal Exchange, London.
D. J. Warner, “Edward Nairne: Scientist and Instrument Maker,” Rittenhouse 12 (1998): 65-93.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Nairne, Edward
Physical Description
metal (case material)
textile (case material)
glass (microscope material)
brass (microscope material)
wood (case material)
ivory (slides material)
microscope: 34.9 cm x 10.3 cm x 11.8 cm; 13 3/4 in x 4 1/16 in x 4 5/8 in
case: 16.4 cm x 28.3 cm x 16 cm; 6 7/16 in x 11 1/8 in x 6 5/16 in
place made
United Kingdom: England, London
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
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

5/8/2016 4:59:17 PM
Paul Ferraglio
The velvet lining appears to have been replaced. The usual color was emerald green. I have seen one other in very dark blue, not the electric blue here. Considering the worn finish on the microscope, there should be more wear to the velvet.
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