French Drum Microscope with stage fine focus (earlier Nachet type)

Imported and sold by Benjamin Pike Jr., New York, c. 1849

French Drum Microscope with stage fine focus, c. 1849 (Nachet type)

French Drum Microscope with stage fine focus, c. 1849 (Nachet type)

French Drum Microscope with stage fine focus, c. 1849 (Nachet type)

French Drum Microscope with stage fine focus, c. 1849

French Drum Microscope with stage fine focus, c. 1849 (Nachet type)

The microscope is supplied with a full compliment of accessories which include a triple button objective (divisible for power change), two eyepieces, a brass trough with glass bottom for wet preparations, a camera ludica, a stage condenser on an articulated arm, an ivory and ebony stage disk for mounting opaque objects, and a set of dissection tools. In addition, in a compartment within the case are stored sets if paper covered prepared slides; these include ten standard size slides with lables marked B. Pike & Son 518 Broadway New York, a cardboard box containing twelve slides with green paper and hand written contents, and a group of sixteen smaller slides with plain paper covers.


Benjamin Pike Jr. Optician, importer and manufacturer of mathematical and philosophical instruments. No, 294 Broadway, New York.

French Drum Microscope with stage fine focus, c. 1849 (Nachet type), Storage case.


Microscope manufacturing in America began near the end of the 2nd quarter of the 19th century. By mid century, very few American made microscopes were produced. Before that time, many of the microscopes that were available in this country were imported primarily from France and England. One of the major importers were the members of the Pike family of opticians located in New York City. The firm began when Benjamin Pike Senior emigrated to the United States in 1804. He established an optician's business in New York City supplying scientific instruments. His three sons, Benjamin Jr., Daniel, and Gardiner carried on in the business with the father and later on their own, sometimes as partners and, at other times, as competitors. As indicated by the trade label on the inside cover of the case, this particular instrument was retailed by Benjamin Pike Jr. (1809-1864). According to Charles Smart in The Makers of Surveying Instruments in American since 1700, 1962, Pike Jr. was located at the address shown on the trade label during the years 1843-1857. A short history of the Pike firms is avialable online. Also see this.

This microscope is unsigned by the maker. Some early French drum microscopes of this design are known that, while not exactly identical to the instrument shown here, are signed by Camille Sébastien Nachet (1799-1881). One such signed example, marked with one of Nachet's earliest addresses, is located this collection. Another microscope very similar to the one shown on this page, but slightly smaller is also in this collection. Additionally, other similar microscopes are known that are either unsigned or are signed by other opticians. One closely resembling this microscope is located in the Harvard Collection inventory Number: 1081a and is dated 1845-1850; while it is also unsigned, it is attributed to Nachet.

This microscope was purchased for this collection from an individual that indicated that it was owned by a family member in St. Louis MO during the 19th century.

B Pike Jr. Optician

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