Vintage microscopes


Bibliodyssey just published an outstanding collection of illustrations depicting the development of the microscope. I recently saw these antique microscopes at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, and I enjoyed trying to match my photos with the engravings.



This ornately decorated microscope was made by Christopher Cock (~1665), designed by Hooke and used by him in preparing Micrographia. (NMHM, “The Billings Microscope Collection,” 1974) Note the similarity to the microscope in this plate from Hooke’s seminal book Micrographia (via Bibliodyssey):



I love the NMHM’s period display cabinets, with their dated fonts and monochromatic backgrounds – it’s like a wholesome rural American science fair diorama! (I think one could build a timeline of science museum curation styles, which, if properly calibrated, would accurately capture any date in twentieth century American history.)


As you can see, the NLM collection extends from Leewenhoek all the way to EM. The tiny microscope above with the copper globe was the first “desktop” electron microscope (!) made by RCA (1955). (NMHM, “The Billings Microscope Collection,” 1974)



  1. #1 floatingrunner
    September 2, 2008

    cool.. more ancient (steampunky) stuff!! 😀

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