This is a brass screw-barrel microscope—of the sort that the English optician, James Wilson, introduced to the Royal Society in 1702—with a detachable wooden handle; three condensing lenses, each in a brass holder; a brass bar holding six objectives; nine ivory sliders; and a forceps. A second brass tube with a large and almost flat condensing lens could be used to connect the microscope with a (missing) window plate and mirror, so that this could be used as a solar microscope.
Colby College was established in 1813, and may have acquired this microscope at that time.
Ref: Deborah Warner, “Projection Apparatus for Science in Antebellum America,” Rittenhouse 6 (1992): 87-94.
Gerard L’E Turner, The Great Age of the Microscope (Bristol and New York, 1989), p. 236.
Currently not on view
Object Name
solar microscope
date made
19th century
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
box: 3 in x 11 in x 7 in; 7.62 cm x 27.94 cm x 17.78 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Science & Scientific Instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Science & Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Colby College
Additional Media

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