800 GBP ($1000 USD) + shipping and insurance

An exceptionally rare and signed Swift lamp with blue condenser and chimney combined with a brown shade


30 x 13 cm.




James Swift

Country of manufacture

UK and Ireland

Categories: Microscopy, Engineering antiques, Magic Lanterns & Optical Toys, Office Antiques


An exceptionally rare and fine example of a James Swift microscope lamp. Signed on the ceramic chimney shade “James Swift, 48 University St., London, Registered” (earliest address), this lamp stands 12 inches tall on a round brass base. The golden lacquer is virtually intact although the accessory HAS been used. It boasts a combination of a plano/concave BLUE glass bullseye, a BLUE glass burner chimney and the earliest chocolate BROWN chimney shade (1855). Fully adjustable both vertically and horizontally using knurled screws with brackets and round bars the instrument (although fragile and tricky to use) is a marvel of engineering. The glass paraffin filled reservoir has its original cotton wick and glass stopper and is surmounted by a typical oil lamp burner head. The chimney sits atop the burner and is held in place by a knurled screw. The reservoir sits in a round brass “cup”. A round bracket supports the ceramic shade with a domed port to allow the light to exit toward the side arm condenser. The entire assembly is supported by a round vertical bar from the circular base and is capable of  doubling it’s height as well as tilting and turning in any direction to assist the microscopist in his/her quest.

Some minor faults to be noted: 1) the base of the glass chimney has a minor chip 2) the ceramic shade has an old heat related fracture that has been stabilised in the past (see photos). Everything else works as it was intended. The condenser is without fault. This is the lamp to own if you want an example of Swift’s earliest production (lots out there with white shades by Swift & Son c. 1860-1900). By 1857 he was in partnership with his son and  at 43 University Street.

The case is associated but fits perfectly. It is mahogany with a chunky turned handle and measures 13 1/2 x 8 x 5 1/2 inches wide (34 x 20 x 13 cm.). Lock intact but no key.

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CA ScientificaOpticae

Scientifica Opticae

Mark Hacking (Scientifica Opticae Inc.) has been an avid collector/dealer for over 30 years. A former Science teacher, he has an innate love for anything natural or mechanical. Specializing in optical (microscopes, telescopes), surveying, medical, weighing and drawing instruments, he is an active participant of the Scientific Instrument Fair in London. Living in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, with his wife and two children; Mark looks forward to meeting as many fellow collectors as possible, and has a worldwide following on eBay (Sciopti).

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