Alexis Magny Cuff-Type Compound Microscope (No. 11)

Alexis Magny (c17121777) was employed by the duc de Chaulnes and during his career as an optician created a series of artistic microscopes, all of which were of a similar design. Like his French contemporaries George and Passemant, Alexis Magny made a few instruments for local clientele such as nobility and the upper middle class, and never branched out as did his English contemporaries Adams and Cuff. Each Magny microscope was decorated uniquely; some with gilded bronze, green shagreen or red morocco, or as can be seen here some were more plain. Many of his microscopes were Cuff-style instruments that were highly decorated and were, as described by Daumas, "veritable works of art." In addition to the beauty of his microscopes, many of Magny's instruments came with a richly tooled and gilded leather cases. Unfortunately, there is no case for this microscope in the Golub Collection. It is likely that Magny made all of his microscopes within a very short period of time, and that he purchased the bronze bodies from Caffierti who based them all on the same model. One such instrument is the Duc de Chaulnes' model, a highly decorated work of art. The microscope shown here is similar to the ornate duc de Chaulnes instrument in its basic design and thus is a fine example of Magny's Cuff-style microscopes. While not nearly as decorated as other Magny microscopes, this instrument in the Golub Collection shows a similar design, and a similar beauty.

The microscope is a bronze compound monocular microscope with a Cuff-style body. The body is supported by a inclinable hinge mounted on large, curved trunnions. The body tube is supported by a rectangular pillar that slides during focusing against a similar pillar. Focusing is via a Hevelius screw mechanism similar to the type used in other Cuff-style instruments and Cuff's microscope. The sample stage is a Bonanni spring stage and the specimen is illuminated by a gimbaled substage mirror. The microscope has the typical optical system and a two-lens eyepiece topped with an ornate dust cover. The microscope and support are mounted to a mahogany base decorated with dyed bone. The base has one drawer into which fit the thirteen included objectives. Accessories include three bone specimen slides, a single aquatic slide, and a stage forceps. The microscope plus base is approximately 43cm tall.

Featured 12/2011

Made by Alexis Magny
Made in: Paris, France
Accessory drawer