Mid-18th Century Aquatic microscope in sharkskin coated case

Mid-18th Century Aquatic microscope in sharkskin coated case

Stock Number: FG_22027


This is a large aquatic microscope (often misnamed after John Ellis), in a typical sharkskin-coated wooden case with inner green felt lining. IVORY PARTS WERE REMOVED due to CITES regulations and are not included in this listing.


Case: 17 x 11 x 4 cm



Country of manufacture

UK and Ireland

Categories: Scientific, Microscopy, Mineralogy & Gemmology, Natural history


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. Ellis was highly regarded by Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), who called him one of the brightest stars of natural history. Ellis was elected FRS in 1754. In 1755 he published his work on corals, translated into French the following year, which won him an international reputation. Ellis wanted a microscope of high portability which made 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.

All seems to be in good condition, both optically and cosmetically. As said, ivory parts were removed. I suspect that the stage may have been adopted from another aquatic microscope but it fits the set well. 

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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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