Rare Double Microscope by Richebourg (No. 315 )

Age: c1845
Made by: Pierre Ambroise Richebourg
Made in: Paris
Ing. Opticien
Quai de l'horloge
No. 29
Richebourg Trade Card

This microscope is very well preserved and comes with four eyepieces, polarizing light microscopy accessories, a large compressor, two camera lucidas, a Lieberkuhn, three objectives with two doublets, and a large Oberhauser-type stage. It can be used as vertical and modified as a horizontal microscope by the addition of a body piece equipped with a large prism. Illumination is via a double sided substage mirror and an interesting Nachet-style substage accessory carrier. Imaging is very good with only a small amount of chromatic aberration.

The microscope is optically complete, but all forceps, scissors, and pikes are lacking. There are two small flaws: the spring of the Oberhauser stage is broken and one of the two screws for the micrometric eyepiece is twisted (but works perfectly). In addition, the instrument comes with nine sample slides and a full wave retardation plate by Joseph Bourgogne, two Nicol polarizers (one embedded in an objective nosepiece), and a Lieberkuhn objective. The microscope may be disassembled and stored in a mahogany case. It is engraved on the body support "Richebourg, Ing. Opticien, Quai de l'horloge, No. 29, Paris"

Pierre Ambroise Richebourg (1810-1873) was a Paris optician who was apprenticed to Vincent Chevalier and subsequently opened his shop in Paris on Quai de l'Horloge. Richebourg is most noted as a student of Louis Daguerre and as a master of the daguerreotype method of photography. He was also the first person to take daguerrotype images using a solar microscope under the direction of Alfred Donné at the college of France**. His photo documentation of Paris using the daguerreotype technique in the 1840s, and his position as an official photographer in Paris during the 1850s and 60s provides an historically important documentation of Paris in the mid 19th Century. This instrument therefore is an extremely important addition to the Golub Collection and its contribution to the history of French microscopy.

*Thanks to Alexandre Piffault (Le Zograscope) for this historical description.

**Léon Faucault also is attributed to have taken microscope images using a device of his own invention (Golub Collection No. 135) under the direction of Alfred Donné.

Thanks to Ms. Riley Maxon for her invaluable and indefatigable assistance in photographing this Richebourg microscope.

This is a rare, signed microscope made by Pierre Ambroise Richebourg (we know only two microscopes signed by Richebourg). It is an early production dating before 1845, and is a link between the domination during 1820/1845 in French microscopy of Chevalier's family and after this date of the Nachet family (Camille Nachet was apprentice to Charles Chevalier). While Richebourg was apprentice to Vincent Chevalier (father of Charles Chevalier), he made this microscope following the new Nachet drum microscope standard, and it is comparable in workmanship to the early "Nachet opticien" drum microscope style. It is probable therefore that this microscope is historically a landmark microscope for French microscopy, not innovative by his form, but one that gives important information about the French microscopy around 1845/1855—the transfer from Chevalier heritage and new Nachet invention*.

Contact: Steven Ruzin, Ph.D
Curator of The Golub Collection
located in
Valley Life Sciences Building, Onderdonk Lobby
The University of California at Berkeley, USA
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