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Late Tripod (Culpeper-type) microscope, ca.1780.

Between 1725 and 1730, British microscope designer and maker Edmund Culpeper produced what was to become a very popular microscope type. His design had a double tripod base, the lower level of which had a mirror to illuminate specimens on the upper level.

It is clear today that Culpeper did not entirely produce his microscopes. Like many 18th-century manufacturers, he probably acquired them by outsourcing their parts to numerous workshops and then retailing them under his name (which only appeared as trade cards glued to the inner parts of their pyramidal cases). The design was quickly copied by numerous makers and enjoyed immense popularity throughout the 18th century.

In some ways, the Culpeper microscope was a step back in microscope design, as the upright aspect was difficult to use and illuminate. Their optical performance was mediocre at best. However, the Culpeper-type microscope was simple to construct and not exceptionally costly. Therefore, it opened up the world of microscopy to a larger audience.

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