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Culpeper-Style Compound Tripod Microscope

Having an eighteenth-century focusing mechanism, this Culpeper-style microscope is probably of Italian origin sometime after 1716. The model featured below was redrawn from photographs of the original microscope, which is part of the Billings microscope collection at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington DC.

A circular turned-walnut base supports a fixed brass tripod, with the narrow external side inclining inward at the upper end. Here, the body tube is fixed with a coarse-threaded screw into a brass ring. Below this is a brass plate through which the nosepiece passes. Another circular brass plate positioned under the nosepiece acts as the stage. A mirror is mounted in a brass gimbal and fastened to the base, directly in the optical path of the microscope. The body tube is made of a dark wood, probably pear, and has a threaded portion for focusing. The eyepiece has a wooden dust cap for protection, and the objective is mounted in a brass fitting.


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