Letter from Peter Dollond, optical instrument maker, c.1790

Letter from Peter Dollond, optical instrument maker, c.1790

Stock Number: 2406021010


A letter concerning business matters, written shortly after the death of Dollond's wife


147 x 187mm




Peter Dollond

Country of manufacture

UK and Ireland

Categories: Bookshop, Scientific, Telescopes, Scientific Books


Scarce letter in the hand of Peter Dollond (1731–1820), leading optical instrument maker and inventor of the apochromat lens.

The letter was written to a Mr Mouchett in the immediate aftermath of the death of Dollond’s wife. This was likely Ann Phillips, Peter Dollond’s wife since their marriage in 1761. Dollond remarried in 1795, so we have a probable terminus ad quem for the letter.

The content links Dollond to a network of people involved in the business of the instrument trade. Mouchett is probably Henry Ann Mouchett, listed in various registers as an ‘Instrument-keeper’. In the letter Dollond informs Mouchett that ‘Mr Grignion’ has asked Dollond to convey certain information and goods to Mouchett.

Grignion must be either Henry Grignion, apprentice to George (Huggins) Dollond in 1806, or, more likely, Henry’s father Claudius Grignion.

Dollond informs Mouchett that Mr Grignion is travelling to Bath, where Dollond’s wife had died. Various arrangements are made, concerning the transfer of monies and ‘the black leather case which contains some papers of your concerns’.

The letter is addressed from Stamford Street, a fashionable new Lambeth street in the 1790s, but not an address known to be associated with Dollond. It is also unclear why Grignion would be travelling to Bath rather than Dollond himself. Nevertheless, as biographical material on instrument makers is so scarce, it is revealing to see the close network of largely emigre makers working together.

For Dollond see Brian Gee, Francis Watkins and the Dollond Telescope Patent Controversy, edited by Anita McConnell and A.D Morrison-Low (Ashgate, 2014).

Condition is very good: sheet folded with address side cut down; laid paper age-toned, watermarked ‘R. Will[iams]’.

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GB Boris Jardine Rare Books

Boris Jardine Rare Books specializes in history of science and technology, and scientific instruments.

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