Early Aquatic Microscope, ~1750

Early Aquatic Microscope, ~1750

Stock Number: FG_21004


The 'Aquatic microscope' is of the type originally suggested by the Swiss naturalist Abraham Trembley (1710-1784) for his seminal study of the hydra, later to be materialized by John Cuff (1708?-1772?), microscope maker, for John Ellis (1707-1776), an Irish naturalist, for his work on corals.



Country of manufacture

UK and Ireland

Categories: Scientific, Microscopy, Natural history


The aquatic microscope was designed for high portability, to make it easy to follow the activity of the hydra and other small water organisms held on a watch glass on a microscope stage. The first model was made by Cuff for Ellis in 1752. The design became popular, and microscopes in various forms of this design were made in England and Europe. Later improvements to this design eventually included rack and pinion focusing instead of the overly simple push-fit focussing of the first models (see here). Later, Raspail changed the forward and backward motion of the arm carrying the eyepiece to a fine motion driven by a screw mechanism (see here). In 1832 Charles Darwin took with him an advanced form of the Ellis Aquatic microscope, made by Bancks of London (also represented in this collection), on his seminal voyage on board HMS Beagle.

This early form of the aquatic microscope is mounted on the ray skin-coated wooden case with a center mount for the pillar, has Lieberkuhn and plain lenses of different magnifications that can be screwed to the bar above the circular stage with a specimen holder and convex mirror below.

Ask the Dealer

Item enquiry

To enquire about this item, complete the form bellow to send a message to the Dealer

Enter Email
Confirm Email

Dealer information

IL Gilgamesh

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.

Shipping information
Payment methods