In this simple device, a brass column with lens holder and stage folds into a small wooden case and pops up when the lid is opened. Annette Braun, an accomplished American entomologist, and her sister, Emma Lucy Braun, a botanist, gave it to the Smithsonian in 1966. The paper attached to the inside of the lid—reading “Botanical microscope owned by Thomas Willym of Hereford, England, A.D. 1770”—probably refers to the bishop and prebendary of Hereford Cathedral. The date is obviously in error, as this form was first described by William Withering, an English botanist, in 1796.
Ref: William Withering, An Arrangement of British Plants (Birmingham, 1796), vol. 1, plate XII. This “Represents the Botanical Microscope in its present improved state.”
R. J. Rowbury, “William Withering of Birmingham and the Botanical Microscope,” Microscopy 34 (1981): 244-253.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
18th century
overall: 1 in x 2 7/16 in x 4 5/8 in; 2.54 cm x 6.19125 cm x 11.7475 cm
place made
United Kingdom: England
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Science & Scientific Instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Science & Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Annette F. Braun and Emma Lucy Braun

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