Lignum Vitae Optical Compendium of Three Microscopes, ca. 1720-1730
Stock Number: FG_22037
This is an early, rare, and high-quality version of an optical compendium. It is made entirely of lignum vitae and includes a variety of microscopes that provide different magnifications and the ability to examine both transparent and opaque objects.
Height closed: 10.5 cm, max. diameter at base: 3.5 cm.
Country of manufacture
UK and Ireland
The dome lid at the top of the compendium hides underneath a flea glass of the type seen in the other examples shown here. Its removal reveals a magnifier that allows the inspection of objects under low magnification. Inside the magnifier’s housing is a screw-barrel microscope of a particular type that includes a live box for light-permeable items. At the bottom of the compendium are two more lenses for this microscope, allowing a choice of three different magnifications. Similar devices are known from the Science Museum in London (; ; ), the Whipple Museum, the Giordano collection (now in the in Lyon, France), and an ivory version in the Golub Collection ().
Condition: The overall condition is excellent, as seen in the photos. The only issue is that the screw barrel is halted and cannot be turned, and so is the lens in its housing. Because there is a hairline crack along part of its body, I did not attempt to use any oil or try any forced action to release it.
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.