Opera Glasses

The words “12 Verres” on the crosspiece probably mean that this instrument was made in France. They also indicate that each eye lens and each objective lens is a triple achromat, a design that was developed by Joseph Petzval, a professor of mathematics at the University of Vienna, and introduced to practice by Voightländer & Sohn in the early 1840s. Because of this design, the optics are exceedingly good. The objectives lenses are 44 mm diameter. The frame is gilt metal. The barrels and eyecups are covered with mother of pearl, as is the center wheel that adjusts the focus. The case is dark leather lined with magenta silk.
Ref: Charles Chevalier, Catalogue Explicatif et Illustré des Instruments d’Optique et de Météorologie (Paris, 1860), p. 17.
Currently not on view
Object Name
opera glasses
date made
mid 19th century
overall: 10 1/2 in; 26.67 cm
place made
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Science & Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


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