San Martino's Simple Microscope Described

MICROSCOPES. OPTICS. Lupieri, Giuseppe Maria (1748-1805)

Del Microscopio Memoria.

Vicenza: "Nella Stamperia Turra," 1784


Large octavo: 20 x 14 cm. XVI, 140, [2] p. With a folding engraved plate.


An excellent copy in contemporary boards, largely unopened. Only 3 copies in North America: Cornell, UC Berkeley, NLM

A very rare work by the Italian physician Giuseppe Maria Lupieri describing the simple microscope created by his friend Giambattista Pasinato da San Martino di Lupari (1739-1800). Lupieri gives detailed instructions for using the microscope and includes a folding engraving showing the constituent elements of the instrument. Lupieri's account is prefaced by a brief history of the microscope.

San Martino was a renowned naturalist and a member of numerous prestigious scientific academies, including the Accademia Nazionale dei XL, and those of Florence, Bologna, and Milan. He used his microscope in his botanical and agricultural research.

San Martino improved the simple microscope, making his own excellent, powerful lenses, capable (in the version of the microscope given to Caldani allo Spallanzani) of magnifying up to 2060 diameters. In the version of the instrument described by Lupieri, the author calculated that it was possible to reach a magnification of 8,000 diameters.

Although the compound microscope was in use in the 17th c., the simple microscope, which provided greater magnification and a higher degree of resolution, was used well into the 19th century for the examination of plants and insects. Among those who made early use of the instrument were Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) and Jan van Musschenbroek (1687-1748).

In addition to San Martino's instrument, other simple microscopes made in the 18th c. include those of Pieter Lyonnet (1708-1789) and James Wilson (1655-1730). San Martino gave his own account of the instrument in the Nuovo giornale enciclopedico (January 1787). For another description of the instrument see: Göttingische Anzeigen von gelehrten Sachen, vol. 3 p. 1672-3

Blake 280; Riccardi II, 60