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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
date made
Nairne, Edward
place made
United Kingdom: England, London
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
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Science & Scientific Instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Science & Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History


"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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