German Cuff-Type Microscope, ca. 1760

 

 

A Cuff-type microscope, possibly German, the second half of the 18th century. This microscope is of a hitherto unrecorded design, unsigned, but the overall style and several details within it strongly suggest a German origin.

When fully set, the microscope stands 37cm high, mounted on the top of the 15x21x8cm fitted mahogany case. The body tube screws into an arm at the top of the pillar; coarse and fine focussing is by a Cuff-type mechanism (sliding block with a clamp screw and long threaded screw connecting the block and the arm holding the body tube). The single-sided mirror (the glass is now reconstructed, the frame is original), is mounted in a plate at the base of the pillar. A Bonanni-type spring stage can be screwed into the stage. The inside of the drawer is covered with 18th century printed paper that recalls German manufacture.

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So far, only another example of this microscope is known to us from a private collection in France. That microscope is the same in every detail as the one in our collection, but it also has the eyepiece cover that is missing in our example. In terms of style, details (such as the printed paper lining the inside of the drawer), the design of the optical tube and the shape of the box that serves as the basis for the microscope, it is clear that this microscope was inspired by the London-based maker John Cuff from around 1745. This design was quickly copied by many manufacturers in England and soon moved to continental European countries as well. Copies inspired by the Cuff microscope were created by Claude Simeon Passemant (1702–1769) in Paris, Dutch manufacturers such as Jacob Huisen (1739–1792) and Jacobus Lommers (1696–c1775), both of Utrecht in the Netherlands; or Georg Friedrich Brander (1713–1783) from Augsburg. One model of a box-top microscope created by Brander is particularly similar to the microscope seen here and this affinity may indicate a similar source, but in the absence of signed examples, this hypothesis cannot be substantiated.

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