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Trade card for James Ayscough, optician, London, England, 1749-1750

James Ayscough was an optician working at premises indicated by the sign of the ‘Great Golden Spectacles’ in Ludgate Street in London in 1749. Trade cards such as these were used to advertise businesses and may have been given out with purchases. Ayscough also made instruments which required ground lenses, such as telescopes, microscopes and thermometers as well as optical instruments made for amusement, such as magic lanterns. The techniques required for grinding fine lenses meant that this was a highly skilled profession.

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    Glossary: advertisement

    A public notice or announcement especially one advertising goods or services in newspapers, on posters, or in broadcasts

    Glossary: trade card

    Printed sheets, and later cards, bearing tradesmen's advertisements, often including an engraved illustration; produced from the 17th through the 19th century. Cards made later often included the name and address of a business concern and the name of its representative, and intended more for information than for advertising, use "business cards." For cards made later and distributed for advertisement, use "advertising cards," and for those made later and issued primarily to be collected, with or without advertisements on them, use "collecting cards."

    Glossary: microscope

    Instrument that provides a magnified view of an object being studied usually by optical means. Electrons, X-rays and ultra-violet light can be used instead of visible light

    Glossary: optical instruments

    A device used to observe and/or measure light. It can give an enhanced image for viewing or scientific analysis.

    Glossary: thermometer

    Instruments for measuring temperature by utilizing the variation of the physical properties of substances according to their thermal states..

    Glossary: telescope

    optical instruments using mirrors, lenses or both, which produces a magnified image of distant view. There are three main types of telescope; namely refracting (dioptric), reflecting (catoptric) and the combination of the former types known as catadioptric.