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This is a direct-vision spectroscope with a seven-part prism. The three sections (collimator, prism train and telescope) screw together to form an instrument 18 inches long overall. The “John Browning / London” inscription refers to John Browning (ca. 1831-1925), the first important English spectroscope maker. The “Alex. R. Newman” inscription on the top of the mahogany box has not been identified. The “1173” incised on the inside of the box may be a serial number.
Browning introduced the seven prism form in 1869. A reliable text published in 1872 stated that this instrument “commends itself by the excellence of its performance, the facility of its use, the smallness of its dimension, the purity of colour, and its low price.”
Ref: John Browning, How to Work with the Spectroscope (London / New York, 1878).
H. Schellen, Spectrum Analysis in its Application to Terrestrial Substances, and the Physical Constitution of the Heavenly Bodies (London, 1872), p. 119.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Browning, John
place made
United Kingdom: England, London
overall: 18 in; 45.72 cm
overall in case: 2 11/16 in x 7 1/4 in x 5 1/8 in; 6.82625 cm x 18.415 cm x 13.0175 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Science & Scientific Instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Science & Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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