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.


Navigate a route, north and south

20 February 2023

Jason Clarke Antiques has for sale at £8500 this unusually large 9in diameter, c.1770, universal equinoctial ring dial by Dollond of London


Telescope on offer from renowned German maker

20 February 2023

Georg Merz and Joseph Mahler took over the Utzschneider & Fraunhofer company in 1839.


A world coming into focus thanks to Negretti & Zambra

20 February 2023

Early stereoscopic images featured in the collection of a dealer curious about how technology transformed life in Victorian times


Quadrant provided early help if all at sea

20 February 2023

The Winter Maritime Sale at Eldreds on February 28-March 1 includes an 18th century Islamic brass quadrant made in the Maghreb region of north-west Africa.


Optical expertise all round

20 February 2023

The famous firm of Negretti & Zambra was formed in London in 1850 by the Italian-born Henry Negretti and Joseph Warren Zambra


Weather forecast all in one

20 February 2023

Dreweatts in Newbury has for sale this fine Victorian ‘weather station’ with a full provenance and a portrait of its former owner.


Prize winning horizontal steam engine shows ‘exceptional engineering’

20 February 2023

Steam engine made in France and later installed in Sussex museum graced same exhibition as the Eiffel Tower


Civil engineer’s career took him from Grimsby to Brazil

20 February 2023

A substantial Victorian monocular microscope auctioned by Flints (25% buyer’s premium) dated 1858 and 1863 on the objectives was not only a good bit of kit with lots of accessories included but came signed with the owner’s name in several places.


Edison Electric Pen turned out to be good for tattooing, not so for copying

20 February 2023

Thomas Edison’s electric pen might not have flourished as planned for the purpose of duplicating documents but if you have a tattoo you can be thankful.


Dealer Hawkins to sell townhouses tempters

02 January 2023

Antiques dealer and taxidermy specialist Emma Hawkins is selling a collection from her townhouses in Edinburgh and London at Sotheby’s this month.

André Romain Guilmet torpedo clock

Guilmet’s torpedo clock boat shoots away at auction

07 November 2022

André Romain Guilmet’s industrial themed clocks, the epitome of Victorian ‘progress’, are an ever-popular series.


Focus on microscope taken on Captain Cook’s first Voyage of Discovery

24 October 2022

A microscope used by Joseph Banks (1743-1820) on Captain Cook’s first Voyage of Discovery (1768-71) is going under the hammer estimated at £30,000-50,000 on November 1.

Racing chronograph

Pick of the week: Wheel time measured by real time machine

06 June 2022

By 1920, as a new era of aero-engined racing cars threatened to break the 100mph barrier, the emerging sport of motor racing required better and more precise time-keeping.


Retro fair makes call on name change

25 April 2022

The National Vintage Communications Fair has rebranded itself and is now called RetroTechUK.


Cataloguing the best in London and beyond

21 March 2022

A round-up of current catalogues from folk-art at the rescheduled Winter Show to the Mellor-Cobham collection of English porcelain at Albert Amor


French inventor Colmar's Arithmomètre sells in German saleroom

14 March 2022

Although the French inventor Charles-Xavier Thomas de Colmar introduced the first model of his calculating machine Arithmomètre in 1820, he waited some 30 years before he started producing them in series.


Dealers continue appliance of science despite fair demise

14 February 2022

The Antique Scientific Instruments Fair ran for 30-plus years but sadly is no more, with its last outing taking place under the banner of the Scientific Instrument Society held as part of the Antique Arms Fair in London in September 2019.

Brian May and Denis Pellerin

Stereoscopy book by historian and rock star praises King’s College London professor

20 November 2021

The launch of Queen’s guitarist Brian May and historian Denis Pellerin’s new book ‘Stereoscopy: The Dawn of 3-D’ was held at King’s College London to honour a past-professor at the university.


Fossils fuel interest in 19th century microscope slides

01 November 2021

A group of early 19th century microscope slides mounted with specimens of fossilised wood sold for £11,500 (estimate £1000-1500) to a Canadian private collector at Special Auction Services (25% buyer’s premium) in Newbury.

A c.1600-1610 elephant automaton clock

Elephant in the room: an exceptional clock

18 October 2021

A rare 17th century elephant automaton clock was the star of the Christie’s New York Exceptional sale when it sold at $2.15m (£1.58m) to a private buyer.