Johan Joosten van Musschenbroek Simple Microscope, No. 97
Age: 1673–1748
Made by: Johan Joosten van Musschenbroek
Made in: Holland
The Van Musschenbroek workshop of Leiden made scientific instruments from c1660–1748. It was known throughout Holland for the rich selection of scientific and medical instruments offered to the scientific community. At its height the workshop offered 238 different instruments ranging from air pumps to microscopes. The owners Samuel van Musschenbroek (1640–1681) and Johan Joosten van Musschenbroek (1660–1707) made at least ten different kinds of microscopes, both simple and compound. The instrument displayed here is an example of the early version of their simple microscope. This instrument model, as well as a high-magnification model introduced in 1680, were sold by the Van Musschenbroek firm until it closed in 1748. This microscope in the Golub Collection is an example of the first version of simple magnifier designed (probably) by Samuel in the early 1670s. Johan, however, is credited as being the actual maker of the instrument, as described in Oculus Artificialis by Johannes Zahn, 1702. One of the more celebrated clients of the Musschenbroek firm was Jan Swammerdam (1637–1680), who used a Musschenbroek magnifier to study the nervous system of insects.

This microscope has three objectives, each consisting of a biconvex lens mounted in a turned hardwood holder. Six objectives were supplied with Musschenbroek's microscope, however, only three remain with this instrument. The objective assembly can be mounted on the end of a tapered brass rod, which is connected via a series of articulated joints to one of a number of specimen holders. These ball and socket joints became quite famous and were known as "Musschenbroek nuts". Imaging is good with magnification near 15x. Accessories included with the instrument are two U-shaped specimen holders, a long spiral rod, a short rod with two ball ends, a small hook, and a brass forceps. The user would mount the specimen to one of these devices, then bend the joints until the specimen came into focus. The magnifier, objectives and sample holders can be transported in an oval case covered in black leather. The microscope as well as the case are stamped with Musschenbroek's symbols: an oriental lamp and a pair of crossed keys. The microscope is approximately 9x5cm.

The Billings Collection in the US and the Boerhaave Museum in Leiden have instruments identical to this.

Featured 02/2011

Crossed Keys and Oriental Lamp
Imaging