Stunning craft “masterpiece”, binocular microscope, c.1884 by J.B. Rapkin

Stunning craft “masterpiece”, binocular microscope, c.1884 by J.B. Rapkin

Stock Number: FG_C 003


Large binocular microscope with fitted case and drawer full of accessories. Made by John Benjamin Rapkin (1837–1914).



Country of manufacture

UK and Ireland

Categories: Scientific, Microscopy


Large and attractive binocular microscope in fitted case with accessories; exquisite decorative engraving. Fine condition.

This extraordinary instrument was made by John Benjamin Rapkin (1837–1914), and is the sole known instrument by this maker. In correspondence accompanying the microscope the curator David Bryden writes that “in view of the remarkable workmanship and florid decoration around the maker’s name I would hazard a guess that J.B.R. is was a son or nephew of [instrument maker Alfred Thomas Rapkin], and that your instrument is his ‘masterpiece’, i.e. his specimen of craftsmanship made at the end of his apprenticeship.”

More recently, the documents relating to Rapkin’s training have indeed been located, showing that he was made free of the City of London in 1884. Rapkin was listed as a ‘steel plate engraver’, which would explain the flourishes and decoration on the maker’s monograph (on the base), on the stage, and on the caps of the lenses. His father is listed as John Rapkin, brother of the well-known instrument maker Alfred Thomas Rapkin, who went into a long and successful partnership as Pastorelli and Rapkin.

The instrument itself is a large Wenham binocular microscope, very similar to the models marketed by Andrew Ross. The elegant custom made case is  18in x 18in x 32in and the microscope is 23inches tall in the position shown in the photographs. Accessories, listed below, are neatly housed below the instrument in a glass-topped drawer. Correspondence and notes accopmanying the microscope are also included, and provenance will be given upon purchase.


– mechanical substage for, polarizing apparatus, substage condenser with apertures, substage lens

– objectives (1 inch, 1/2in, 1/4in, 1/6in), all signed

– eyepieces (a/a, b/, c – but complete because ‘c’ is for monocular use)

– live cage

– bullseye lens

– 2 of the three pieces of substage equipment

– unidentified tube with one opaque ‘lens’, sliding into main body with clear lens at the other end

– multiple objective, with 18 apertures

– stage lieberkuhn

– stage forcepts

– nosepiece reflector

Ask the Dealer

Item enquiry

To enquire about this item, complete the form bellow to send a message to the Dealer

Enter Email
Confirm Email

Dealer information

GB Fleaglass-Commission-Sale

In addition to displaying the stock of all the dealers listed below, Fleaglass also sells selected antiques on behalf of collectors and other private individuals. Every item is carefully examined for authenticity and condition, and only items meeting our high standards are accepted. All commission items are offered with a money-back guarantee. Please click on the image on the left to see the current items.

Other items See all