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This ornate compound microscope was made around a century after the first prototype microscopes of this type were allegedly developed by Dutch eye-glass maker Zaccharias Janssen and his son Hans – this claim is the subject of some dispute. Unlike single lens microscopes, compound microscopes contain at least two lenses. The tube of this microscope is covered in vellum – a fine type of parchment made from the skin of a young calf or goat. The mount is made from walnut. This microscope may have been a source of entertainment and used to study a wide variety of animals, vegetables and minerals. It is only since the 1800s that microscopes have become central to medicine.

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Related Themes and Topics



Glossary: monocular microscope

Microscope with a single viewing eyepiece, as distinct from binocular or stereomicroscopes. It should be noted that monocular microscopes can be fitted with a binocular eyepiece to give pseudo-stereo views

Glossary: microscopy

The use of microscopes to study objects or samples. The three major types of microscopy are optical, electron and scanning probe microscopy.

Glossary: compound microscope

Microscope with multiple optical elements (lenses/mirrors). It has two microscopes in series, the first serving as the ocular lens (close to the eye) and the second serving as the objective lens (close to the object to be viewed).