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The Grand Universal Microscope

The Grand Universal microscope was made by the famous British craftsman Benjamin Martin in or about the year 1780. This microscope was one of Martin's finest achievements, consisting of numerous adjustment knobs and controls used in fine-tuning the two-foot tall microscope.

We have included two models of this microscope to illustrate the versatility of the interchangeable stage mechanisms. The craftsmanship of this microscope is superb, having a triangular limb that is inclined by application of a worm and pinion gear at the base. To provide full aquatic motion, Martin added a worm wheel and rack work to the body tube, and he even provided rack and pinion gears for the mirror and stage. The eyepiece is composed of two plano-convex lenses that are adjustable with another rack and pinion gear set. The most complex part of the Grand Universal microscope is the elaborate stage, which is really two stages connected together by means of a "U"-shaped bar. The model on the left (in the figure above) has a substage condenser lens unit, while the model on the right is equipped with a rotating rack of lenses to allow viewing of the specimen at several different magnifications. The original microscope came equipped with a series of objectives in different magnifications and of varying focal lengths ranging from 0.10 to 4 inches. This microscope, with all of its intricate detailing and fine craftsmanship, was one of the finest of the period.


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