Photos by Hansord Antiques @ Lincolnshire, UK

Culpeper-type microscope by Jacob Abraham of Bath, ca.1810.

Between the years of 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.

In reality, 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 workshop 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 and 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.

This later model of the Culpeper type microscope was made c. 1810-by

Jacob Abraham of Bath (worked: ~1805-1841, perished: 1845), who also owned premises in Cheltenham. Abraham was the founder of the most successful Jewish family of scientific instrument makers in the 18th-19th centuries. Jacob Abraham was first recorded working in St Andrew’s Terrace, Bath (Somerset) in 1809. He held the appointments of Optician and Mathematical Instrument Maker to HRH the Duke of Gloucester, and to His Grace the Duke of Wellington. His son, Abraham Abraham (ca. 1799-1863), was an extremely successful scientific instrument maker who worked mainly in Liverpool but also in other locations in the English Midlands. Along his career, he established partnerships with Simon Phineas Cohen, John Benjamin Dancer and other makers (see the excellent and detailed review of his career in Stevenson, 2016). 


Microscope, Culpeper, Jacob Abraham, England. Powerhouse Museum Collection Search 2.53.

Stevenson, B. 2016. Abraham Abraham and his Partnerships.

This microscope:

Sworders Sept. 13, 2016, Lot 10.

Fleaglass: A Good Example Of A Culpepper Microscope By Abrahams