Scientific Instruments

Items relating to scientific history are a popular collecting area in which number of specialist dealers and auctioneers operate. The field overlaps into sectors such as antique tools, technology, medicine and maritime history.

Objects in this area that regularly appear on the market include microscopes, telescopes, optical devices, globes, sundials and astrolabes as well as dental, drawing and navigational instruments.


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Pocket chronometer was Breguet built, Humboldt owned

18 December 2023

The combination of a pre-eminent maker and a perfect provenance made a late 18th century pocket chronometer one of the most sought-after pieces at Dr Crott (25% buyer’s premium) in Mannheim on November 18.

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From a first batch of barographs

15 July 2023

This is one of the very first batch of standard barographs produced by Richard Frères of Paris.

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Rare Ruhmkorff survivor ready for sale

10 July 2023

Induction coils used to produce high-voltage pulses from a low-voltage direct current, are often called Ruhmkorff coils although studied by Michael Faraday in the 1830s

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It must be one of the Ladds

10 July 2023

This lacquered brass and mahogany Hawksbee-type double valve vacuum pump is signed to the recessed silvered plate Ladd, Penton Place, Walworth.

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Rationality and religion combined

10 July 2023

Like many scientists and eminent thinkers of the time, Isaac Newton was also a devout Christian who thought deeply about religious matters, as a manuscript sold at auction in New York reveals.

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Take a peek before ‘glass and brass’ microscopes appear

10 July 2023

A lucernal microscope is a rare survivor.

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Butterflies create a bit of a flutter in the saleroom

10 July 2023

The 40 trays of British butterflies in this handsome mahogany four-section cabinet by JJ Hill & Son of London were collected by Geoffrey Alfred Cole.

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Homemade receiver ‘picked up news of the Titanic disaster’

10 July 2023

Interest in wireless telegraphy, that was piqued when Guglielmo Marconi successfully sent a message from Poldhu, Cornwall to St John’s, Newfoundland in 1910, prompted many amateurs to build and develop their own sets based on the ‘Coherer’ principle for sending and receiving Morse code.

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Very early TV set that’s a must for connoisseurs

10 July 2023

The HMV 900 was one of first television receivers designed by the Marconi-EMI Television Company, the firm that also provided the technology for Britain’s first television service.

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Tempting machine that is full of socks appeal

10 July 2023

The Harrison semi-automatic pedestal knitting machine was designed c.1900 for producing rib socks.

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Hello, can I speak to a royal please?

10 July 2023

A telephone exchange removed from Buckingham Palace during refurbishment 25 years ago sold in west London for £3000.

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One-off pocket barometer altimeter was used for mining

10 July 2023

This brass cased mining aneroid pocket barometer altimeter, c.1885, was almost certainly a one-off order or commission.

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Astronomical clock ticks tech boxes as innovative timekeeper offered at Drouot

12 June 2023

De Baecque & Associés will be selling this monumental astronomical clock standing 9ft 11in (3m) high on June 30.

Edward IV bronze measure

‘Earliest standard measure’ is the weigh to go

22 May 2023

The Oak Interior sale at Bishop & Miller in Stowmarket on June 1-2 includes this ‘important and exceptional’ Edward IV bronze measure.

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Bid for the feeling of Bliss at auction

15 May 2023

Converse Auctions in Pennsylvania will be offering the clock collection of Willis R Michael (1894-1969) in its online auction on May 19.

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US design formed latest type of telegraph tech

01 May 2023

This rare US patent model, offered for sale by German ‘technical antiques’ specialist Auction Team Breker (21.8% buyer’s premium), aimed to change the way messages were passed via the telegraph in the mid 19th century.

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The web shop window: an early 20th century desk fan

13 March 2023

Thousands of items are available to buy from dealers online. Here we pick out one that caught our eye this week.

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Dhunjeebhoy Rustomjee made his name in shipping

20 February 2023

The slide rule shown here belonged to Dhunjeebhoy Rustomjee, who came from a fine line of Indian master ship builders in ancestry.

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When Short Brothers started to hit the heights

20 February 2023

This instrument dates from the founding days of one of the world’s most significant aerospace manufacturers: Short Brothers

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Gems from a golden age of French automata

20 February 2023

The Paris firm of Roullet & Decamps was famous for automata, walking and moving dolls and toys.

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