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French Simple Aquatic Microscope

Invented by Christiaan Huygens in the late seventeenth century, this microscope is part of the collection of the Institute and Museum of the History of Science in Florence, Italy. Gerard Turner has described the construction and history of this microscope in fine detail.

The body of this simple microscope consists of two ornate flat brass plates fixed together at the "base" and containing an adjustable screw at the viewing portion. Specimens are held on a rotating brass cross that has four mica discs mounted at the end of each arm. A second rotating disc contains four aperture stops for adjustment of specimen illumination. A bracket secured to the body holds a pair of forceps that can mount an external specimen. Focusing is accomplished with the adjustable screw that moves the plates closer together or further apart. The pear-shaped storage case is constructed of black leather glued onto wood, and lined with rose-colored velvet. Christiaan Huygens originally designed this microscope around 1678 and published a sketch in his book Oeuvres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens. Louis Chapotot (or possibly his son), a French mathematician and optical instrument maker, is believed to have produced this microscope around 1700.


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