Stock Number: FG_21030


This is an early 19th-century brass and glass single lens live-box "insectoscope" microscope. Illuminated by the glass live-box, insects, flowers or minerals could be placed for inspection under magnification. Focusing was performed by rotating the screw-in lens by its milled housing. The magnifications of these normally range between ca. x6 - x12.



Country of manufacture

UK and Ireland

Categories: Scientific, Microscopy, Mineralogy & Gemmology, Natural history, Magic Lanterns & Optical Toys


One of the most important developments that the Enlightenment era and the Age of Exploration brought to the discipline of science was its popularization. An increasingly literate population seeking knowledge and education in both the arts and the sciences drove the expansion of print culture and the dissemination of scientific learning. As public interest in natural philosophy grew, hobbyists expressed keen interest in the world around them, with insects, microscopic fauna and flora, and fossils or mineral crystals receiving their fair share of attention. While wealthy amateurs could afford the costly compound microscopes of the time, simpler microscopes such as the one seen here were in use by the less professional or well-to-do amateurs. However, these rather modest microscopes had their fair share in satisfying the curiosity and spreading the notion of natural history amongst the public well into the 20th century.

Livebox insectoscopes such as the one shown here appear in various forms and constructions. The form represented by this example is typical of the end of the 18th to the very beginning of the 19th century. However, in catalogues (such as that of Benjamin Pike’s Son & Co), they appear till the beginning of the second half of the century.

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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.

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