Benjamin Martin’s pocket microscope, early form, ca. 1760
Stock Number: FG_21028
A very rare early form pocket microscope by Benjamin Martin, ca. 1760. A small functioning example, in lignum vitae, pasteboard, shagreen, and brass.
Height closed: 16.5 cm / 6
Country of manufacture
UK and Ireland
This is a very rare, very small early example of Benjamin Martin’s “pocket microscope” (later dubbed “drum microscope”). Like other microscopes of this form, there may have been Martin’s signature on the green vellum coating the tube but apart from blurry remains, it is unreadable now. However, there is no doubt that this is an early microscope of his make. Turner (Collecting Microscopes, 1981: 44-45) suggests a tentative date of about 1760 to the early form (lignum vitae, pasteboard, ray skin, and brass) and about 1780 to the all-brass microscope from a compendium. However, this estimate seems to be too indiscriminating. Turner asserts that all these types but the first pocket microscope, which was first published in 1738 and the following years during his residence in Chichester. Martin started his London career in 1756 and maintained it till his death in February 1782. Therefore, the entire time frame of Martin’s production of pocket microscopes lasted for 26 years. We do not know if their product was maintained along this entire sequence, and if their different models emerged along a unilineal evolutionary line, or whether there were several models that were introduced simultaneously. The microscope offered here is in relatively good shape for the age, please refer to the photos for details. It provides pretty good imaging and the magnification is estimated at ~70-100X. These microscopes are extremely rare today and only a few have survived, most of which are in museums, and only very few are in private collections. I will be happy to answer any questions and provide more photos. In case I didn’t answer within 24 hours due to system errors, please use my direct email: [email protected]
Ask the Dealer
Gilgamesh was the mythological hero of the cultures of ancient West Asia, who set out on a journey in which he sought youth and eternal life.
Fleaglass Gilgamesh is located in Israel. As an archaeologist researching the material culture of the distant past and using the microscope as a major research tool, for more than two decades I have collected microscopes from the first 300 years of existence of this amazing tool and researched the cultural context of their use. Passion has become an obsession and I cultivate the full and almost unique West Asian collection of historical microscopes. Respectively, I put up for sale surplus or interesting items from the collection. I would be happy to advise any interested collector free of charge. Needless to say, I would love to send photos, information and bibliographic references, and discuss the sale details of the items offered here for sale.