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c. 1781


Serial Number: None

cuff compendium in case Cuff Compendium Out of Case


This is a most rare and unusually complete compendium by the famous instrument maker Benjamin Cole; unfortunately it is no longer in this collection, but because of its rarity and completeness, it is included on this website as a valuable and attractive reference. Through a clever arrangement, as seen in the first picture above, all the larger components store neatly in the upper part of the case, and as seen in the other pictures, the rest store in the two drawers, one built into the foot of the microscope, the other fitting into the bottom of the case. Not only does it include the Cuff-type microscope, but also a solar microscope. The Solar allows for attachement of the 'megaloscope' for low-power observations, or the screwbarrel microscope allowing high power images to be projected as well.

Accessories include:

  1. 6 screw-on objectives
  2. a cylindrical lieberkuhn holder which fits around the nose of the microscope
  3. two lieberkuhns fitting the holder
  4. a livebox
  5. substage mirror
  6. stage-mountable bullseye condenser
  7. Bonanni type stage
  8. stage forceps
  9. fishplate with green ribbon
  10. thin vial for observing an eel or small fish
  11. brass and glass live slide
  12. eight bone specimen sliders
  13. three large wooden sliders for use with the megaloscope
  14. solar microscope
  15. megaloscope attachement with slotted rack and pinion focusing
  16. screwbarrel microscope
  17. size objectives for the screwbarrel microscope
  18. a substage cone for regulation of lighting
  19. a hand lens
  20. a talc box with mica talcs and circlips
  21. two screws for attaching the solar microscope to a window shutter
cuff accessories in drawers cuff accessories cuff accessories2 cuff accessories3


In the first half of the eighteenth century tripod microscopes of the 'Culpepper' type were very common instruments. According to historical records, Henry Baker, a famous microscopist of the times complained about the shortcomings of the Culpepper design and specifically made this complaint to John Cuff. Cuff then came up with the side-pillar design now named after him and called it his 'newly contructed double microscope.' Its chief advantages were greater stability in design, easier more precise focusing, and most obvious the much greater accessability of the stage. His microscope made use of the Helvetius Screw, (invented about 1650) for fine focusing, something that Marshall had used earlier. Unfortunately for Cuff, he was not a good businessman, and many competitors, particularly Benjamin Martin, successfully competed against him leading Cuff into eventual bankruptcy. His design survived and was copied by many makers including Cole, Dolland, and others. Benjamin Cole, much like Benjamin Martin was a general scientific instrument maker, but became especially famous for his orreries. Benjamin Cole's son (also Benjamin) lived into the first quarter of the 19th century and was the maker of this microscope. The orrery was such an important part of the Cole's history that they operated 'At the Orrery next the Globe Tavern in Fleet Street, London.' Nevertheless, microscopes signed by Cole are exceedingly rare.