This collection of historical microscopes started as part of my routine work. Like many collectors I have known over the years, I practice microscopy as part of my profession (in archaeology). Needing a good portable polarizing microscope for fieldwork, I started acquiring available instruments. As these proved unsatisfactory, my search was expanded to past models. At the same time I designed my dream microscope. In due time the collection has been altered to include selected milestone microscopes having significant historical importance. This is the collection's online catalog.
As a professor of Archaeological Sciences, I specialize in microarhaeology (the application of microscopical and other scientific methods in archaeology) and especially the study of the technology and origin of archaeological ceramics using mineralogical and geochemical processes. I began my studies in archaeology in 1981 at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. Since 1989, I have worked as a petrography researcher at the Israel Antiquities Authority. In 1991 I received a doctorate from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and in 1996 I was affiliated with Tel Aviv University, where I served as Chairman of the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures and Vice Dean of the Faculty of Humanities. In 2016, I was invited to join the Department of Bible, Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev, where I established an international academic program to study archaeological materials and heritage sciences. Over 40 years after launching my first microarchaeological laboratory, my list includes nearly 250 scientific publications.
Besides being an archaeologist, I am an enthusiastic collector and researcher of historical microscopes. Four decades of experience in microarchaeology have brought me to practice, teach and examine the use of microscopes daily. In many cases, I needed to apply microtechniques in unorthodox conditions: in the field, in remote storage facilities, in museums in my country and abroad, in archaeological excavations in remote locations and in other unusual situations. As part of my job, and later as a declared hobby, I examined the history of the solutions set up over the last 200 years for the needs of scientists acting outside their labs. I published several articles on these topics. I also developed my patented, now commercially produced field microscope, which I use for my routine fieldwork.
This site is dedicated to my collection of over 100 historical microscopes, including some milestone models used by the pioneers of microscopy, microbiology, bacteriology, geology, and other scientific disciplines. It includes simple, compound pre-achromatic and achromatic landmark instruments representing the evolution of the compound microscope, and last, my design of a practical field microscope.
I will be delighted to address any legitimate comment or question.
Policy of the Descriptions and References Appearing on this Website
One of the essential principles in the mature stage of collecting is to set goals and limits. This is the stage where the collector turns from a hoarder to a curator and begins to arrange the collection's focus. With this comes the ability to let go. I visited collections and met many collectors in person during my travels worldwide. For example, I met a renowned collector from Italy who amazed me that after years of collecting European (mainly Italian) early scientific instruments, he decided to focus on timekeeping, sell most of the rest and bring this aspect to state of the art. Elsewhere I have met collectors who uncritically purchased anything, as if out of a binge. So, at a particular stage of collecting, I defined the limits of interest of this collection and quickly gave up items that exceeded this in favor of those that meet this criterion. This collection is limited to 120 items that represent landmarks in the history of the microscope from its introduction to the beginning of the 20th century.
My training and practice for over four decades as an archaeologist specializing in the scientific applications of the discipline comes in combination with the notion that every artifact has a broad cultural, social, economic and historical context. Just as historians do not practice engineering, engineers should better avoid writing history. The literature that deals with the history of scientific instruments (microscopes included) suffers from over-functionalism and a catalog approach. Conversely, a historiography was developed examining ideas related to microscopes and their users, demonstrating distaste for the actual instruments and their collections. I believe that the microscope should be seen as a three-dimensional embodiment of the social and economic background within which it functioned, and the descriptions here emerge from this approach. Since this is an active topic, the site will also be constantly updated.
Over the years, mainly under the influence of the Anglocentric character of the literature, an unnecessary tradition of attaching human names to prototypes was created. Although there is rarely some justification for naming a type after its inventor (e.g., the Cuff microscope), it is a historical distortion in most cases. Because James Willson did not invent the screw-barrel microscope, Edmund Culpeper was not the first inventor of the double tripod microscope; John Ellis had little to do with the idea of an aquatic microscope; Cary and Gould only minimized for their toy microscope, an existing design. So here, these terms were avoided unless deemed justified.
This website includes only items in this collection and my original photographs of them. These media are copyrighted. Other graphic materials are public domain. Otherwise, a link to a URL was made for cross-references to comparable items in other collections.