A Very Fine 18th Century Solar Microscope Compendium By Nairne, London

A Very Fine 18th Century Solar Microscope Compendium By Nairne, London



Late 18th Century

Country of manufacture

UK and Ireland

Category: Microscopy


English, late 18th century, engraved to the mirror plate NAIRNE LONDON, the set is a compendium consisting of a hand held screw-barrel microscope that can be used in conjunction with the mirror assembly to be a solar projection microscope. The mirror housing can also be used with the screw in lenses to be used as a camera obscura. The lid of the case has a hand written instruction that reads ‘When these lenses are used for a camera obscura as they are only required singly dependent on the distance of the object. Let them be screwed in the front to prevent accidents’

The screw-barrel microscope is housed in a shark skin covered case lined with green silk velver, at the front is the microscope body along with 6 simple lenses engraved 1-6, with lenses 1, 2, 3 and 4 with the original brass caps. At the back is a faux leather case containing bone sliders ans a brass wet cell slider, and below is a set of 3 glass vials and a brass rod. The oak case contains the solar microscope mounting tube with a single condenser, the mirror holder with mechanical adjustment and the two obscura lenses (one broken)

cosmetically the set is very good with the brass retaining much of the original lacquer. The shark skin case is in very good condition, with one catch loose, the oak case is also good with no issues
mechanically everything works well with no issues
optically everything is good except fo the broken obscura lens, the mirror has lost some of its silvering.


Nairne was born in Sandwich, England. He was apprenticed to the optician Matthew Loft in 1741 and established his own business at 20 Cornhill in London after Loft’s death in 1748. In 1774 he took his apprentice Thomas Blunt into 

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GB Apsley

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