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Scientific Instruments, Specimens, Books and Collectables

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  • The Billings Microscope Collection of the Medical Museum Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. James Hansen et al [Second and Preferred Edition]

    The Billings Microscope Collection of the Medical Museum Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. James Hansen et al [Second and Preferred Edition]

    This is the preferred second edition 1974 of this standard reference for antique microscope collectors and those interested in antique scientific instruments generally. It contains 32 additional pages of microscopes to the first published in 1967.

    The existence of this collection which maybe rivals that of the London Microscopical Society is down to Lieutenant John S Billings a medical officer in the US Amy who was put in charge of the Army Medical Museum. He did a magnificent job and must have been well financed and supported. He built the heart of the collection between 1883 and 1993 [couldn’t be a better period}. The result has been augmented over the year from donations and acquisitions.

    Softcover quarto, 244 pages, 4 colour plates and 473 black and white photographs of examples. Very good condition ... the covers might look marked but it is just the trendy arty finish.

    A brief history of the microscope is followed by a three part catalogue. Part I … contains the collection acquired by Billings and later donations etc up until 1966. Part II represents a significant collected added from Europe in 1966 – the Kaas Collection. Part II are the important additions since the first printing.

    Billings and essential scientific reference – the best edition .


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  • “Society of Arts” Victorian Brass Microscope with Case – c1860-70

    “Society of Arts” Victorian Brass Microscope with Case – c1860-70

    A quality fully working English brass microscope from around 1860-70.

    With the early V shaped bar for rack and pinion focus and fine adjustment knurled knob. Two objectives both multiple compounding. There is also Live Box for observing creepy crawlies. The concave mirror is in very good condition. The original mahogany case is a quality box, original to the instrument and in very good condition, with separate drawer for slides and bits and pieces. The case still has its original lock and its key, often long lost. The microscope is mounted on a rectangular mahogany board which slides into the case.

    Very similar to the example presented by Peter Turner FRMS to the Royal Microscopical Society catalogued as number 92 in authority Turner.

    In the early 1850’s the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce offered a prize for the design of a compact compound microscope that could sell for 3 guineas. The design, which is reflected here, was won by Robert Fields & Son of Birmingham in 1854. Due to the popularity of the design it was copied by others but often at a higher price. These copies were often unsigned as is the case here. However, the brass foot is very much in the style of Ross so we suspect it came from that maker.

    Nice 19th Century Cased Brass Microscope..


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  • Victorian Telescope – 36 inch two draw – mahogany cased – c1880

    Victorian Telescope – 36 inch two draw – mahogany cased – c1880

    This beautiful two draw telescope is English by origin and made in the Victorian era c1880.

    It is in superb condition. Fully extended it is near 36 inches – closed about 16 inches. The 1.5 inch objective is clear and has good light gathering qualities – no chips. The mahogany casing is intact which is rare as they generally split with age. The eyepiece has a pull down dust cover as is usual for the period.

    The brass objective has a dust cover fitted into a substantial extendable lens shade which slides well … all in very good condition. An instrument of this quality must have come from a leading London maker and the style suggests Dollond.

    Good optics and fine mahogany banding making a handsome early telescope

    Best one we have had for a long time!


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  • Horne and Thornthwaite Field Microscope – Triple compound objective – 1874

    Horne and Thornthwaite Field Microscope – Triple compound objective – 1874

    A Victorian field or students drum microscope by one of the most important London based makers and retailers of optical instruments in the 19th Century Horne and Thornthwaite. Carries their stamp inside the lid when they were at Holborn Viaduct which can be pinned down to 1874, having moved from Newgate the year before moving to upmarket premises in the Strand the year after.

    The business sold microscope, telescopes, cameras, chemicals and laboratory equipment from 1844 until 1911. The history of the business is fascinating but unfortunately too much to go into here. There is an excellent summary online .. we can direct any interested parties.

    The microscope on offer is in very good if not better condition. The condition of the lacquer is possibly the best we have seen. The optics are pretty good and the compounding objectives combine nicely, swivel mirror unblemished. The original mahogany box has its original clips and eyelets and shows little ageing or patina on the lid. Internally undamaged. Comes with what look like original specimen tweezers.

    Super condition field microscope – known relevant maker retailer.


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  • Epitolae Medicanales Variis Occasionibus Conscriptae – Ricardo Carr – 1691

    Epitolae Medicanales Variis Occasionibus Conscriptae – Ricardo Carr – 1691

    A first edition of this scarce 17th Century collection of medical instruction by Richard Carr MD published by Anson Stafford, London in 1691.

    Small octavo, 12, 200,6 pages, bound in full period leather, some wear, cracked hinges holding well, very clean inside, a very good copy of a rare medical work.

    Richard Carr was born in Lincolnshire, educated at Louth Grammar School and then Magdalene College, Cambridge. He entered Cambridge, shortly after Newton, as a sizar in 1667, graduated BA in 1670 and MA in 1674. He then became Master of the Saffron Walden Grammar. In 1683 he went to Leyden to study Physic and then back to Cambridge for his MD in 1686. He was created a Fellow of the College of Physicians by James II Charter, admitted in 1687.

    {Note a "sizar" was a special arrangement at Cambridge whereby food lodgings etc could be obtained for free by the sizar completing some lowly task such as serving food to others etc ... Newton was also a form of sizar called a subsizer]

    This book is his main recognised work; it is dedicated to the College of Physicians.

    The book contains eighteen “epistles” written in a readable popular style as if addressed to patients rather than physicians. They are in Latin. The first epistle deals with the use of sneezing powders, the second smoking tobacco and numerous others relate to dietetics including a strong suggestion that it is most healthy to get blind drunk once a month. The virtues of the Tonbridge and Bath waters are discussed as well as the remedial effects of a trip to Montpellier for phthisis. He reflects on the “struma” and notes that King Charles II touched over ninety two thousand people between 1660 and 1682 and respectfully doubts they all got well. His third epistle deals with the coffee-houses … not a modern phenomena … referring to coffee, thee, twist (a mixture of both), salvia and chocolate.

    Wise Medical Advice from Cambridge Physician Richard Carr – 1691


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  • Conquest of Space – Historical Documentary Record of the First Manned Space-Orbit Flight by Major Yuri Gagarin.

    Conquest of Space – Historical Documentary Record of the First Manned Space-Orbit Flight by Major Yuri Gagarin.

    Not a number one record at the time and so rare and collectable now. A great gift for any space buff with a record turntable.

    A Britone 45rpm mono recording in collaboration with Mezhdunarodnaya Kniga, USSR and with acknowledgement to the USSR Academy of Sciences.

    On 12th April 1961 Vostok was launched into space with Yuri Gagarin on board. Vostok orbited the Earth at 18 thousand miles per hour at up to 203 miles above the Earth’s surface. Gagarin 28 years old was the very first spaceman.

    The record includes Moscow Radio’s announcement of the successful launch an that Vostok was in orbit; Some bars from the song Gagarin sang during his decent back to Earth; Gagarin speaking prior to the flight; Gagarin’s speech at the later Red Square reception and that of Krushchev; the Press Conference at the Scientists Club, Moscow … and another Gagarin musical favourite “I love you, life”.

    Note for those challenged by the Russian language each element is followed by an English translation.

    Pretty special the first man in Space and an unusual useable period tribute.


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