Optical glass and the scientific instrument trade in London before 1750

lens-grinder's workshop

Scientific instrument makers depended on specialised suppliers of optical glass for microscopes, telescopes and other technical instruments. This study investigates the spread of expertise in this field and the business and social relationships between glass-makers, lens-grinders and the instrument makers for whom they worked.

See also related project 'From craft to industry: London's scientific instrument makers' workshops 1780-1820' and also 'The growth of the skilled workforce in London, 1500-1750' and 'Image database of the skilled workforce in early modern London'.


Anita McConnell, 'The aneroid barometer comes to London', Bulletin of the Scientific Instrument Society, No. 39 (September 1993), 20-22; Anita McConnell, 'L.F. Marsigli's visi t to London in 1721, and his report on the Royal Society', Notes and Records of the Royal Society 47 (1993), 179-204; Anita McConnell, 'Instruments for South America', in G. Draoni, A. McConnell and G. L'E. Turner (eds.), Proceedings of the Elev enth International Scientific Instrument Symposium (Bologna, 1994), 113-18; Anita McConnell, '"Thomas Cooke's Order Book": analysis of an optical business, 1856-68', in R. Anderson, J. Bennett and W. Ryan, Making Instruments Count (Variorum, 19 93), 431-42; Anita McConnell, Jesse Ramsden (1735-1800): London's Leading Scientific Instrument Maker (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007); Anita McConnell (edited by Jenny Bulstrode), A Survey of the Networks bringing a Knowledge of Optical Glass-Working to the London Trade, 1500-1800 (Cambridge: Whipple Museum of the History of Science,  2016), xv+166pp. - Available as a free pdf download from the Whipple Museum website.


CMH Annual Reports 1993-4, 1994-5

Project details

Researcher: Anita McConnell, B.Sc., Ph.D., F.R.S.A., F.R.G.S., F.R.Met.S.
Funded by: Renaissance Trust (1 January-31 December 1994)