Accession No


Brief Description

simple microscope, aquatic type, by Robert Bancks [Banks], English, circa 1825


England; London


Banks (Bancks), Robert



Earliest Date

Jan. 1, 1825

Latest Date

Dec. 31, 1825

Inscription Date


metal (brass); glass (mirror); wood (mahogany); cloth (velvet)


box length 222mm; breadth 133mm; height 53mm

Special Collection

Robert Whipple collection


Purchased by Robert Stewart Whipple from T. H. Court on 08/10/1925. It was formerly part of the Crisp Collection.


“BANKS LONDON Instrut. Maker to the KING” (on stage)

Description Notes

simple microscope, aquatic type; made by Robert Banks / Bancks; circa 1825.

Brass pillar screws into lid of box; aperture in base for swinging concave mirror (very badly corroded); brass collar with knurled screw on rack moors [moors moves] shoe which fits to circular stage plate; two watch glasses fit to stage; aperture to take stage forceps; rod fits into top of column with shoe and knurled screw which operates over rack on lens holder; six brass objectives marked ‘1’ to ‘6’ (lens of objective no.’1’ missing); two lieberkuhn objectives.

Fitted mahogany box padded with red velvet.



Growing interest throughout the eighteenth century in natural history, and more particularly in pond-life, stimulated the development of the “Aquatic” microscope. This was initially designed by John Ellis (1710 - 1776) and is therefore often referred to as the “Ellis Aquatic”.

Ellis, a peripatetic naturalist, commissioned his first instrument in 1752 from John Cuff. It was designed to hold small samples of pond-water on a watch-glass stage. In this way the microscopic creatures contained in it could be observed. Several of these microscopes have dissecting tools as part of the kits and could also be used for microscopic dissection.


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