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.


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.

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Retro fair makes call on name change

25 April 2022

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Navy commander Peter Scott became renowned birdwatcher

22 March 2021

If you are a birdwatcher, you need a good pair of binoculars.

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Quality is instrumental to value when it comes to science equipment

01 February 2021

Theodolite and telescope made to high standards measure up in two salerooms

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Superb British Smith & Beck microscope bought by US collector for £38,000 in Berkshire auction

21 December 2020

Surviving records for the London instrument maker Smith & Beck state this superb microscope from the brass and glass era was purchased on September 2, 1853, by Francis Herbert Wenham (1824-1908) – the British engineer who became a key figure in the improvement of the microscope.

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Pick of the week: Slide rule measures up at £11,000

05 October 2020

The invention of the gauger’s slide rule in the 1680s is generally credited to one Thomas Everard of Southampton.

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Sundial and moon sketch draw demand in Plauen auction

28 September 2020

Mehlis (23% buyer’s premium) in Plauen held its first sale of the new season on August 28-29. There was lively bidding, with a high proportion of the bidders joining in by phone.

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Object lesson from Wimbledon fair: glass eyes

07 September 2020

Though the first human in-socket artificial eyes were created by Venetian glassmakers c.16th century, the earliest evidence of ocular prosthesis was found in a female burial plot in Shahr-I Sokhta, Iran – dating back to 2900-2800 BC.

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A detailed look at microscopes and much more

08 June 2020

Fine examples lead an array of scientific instruments and photographica at specialist sale

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Machine exerts a strong influence

06 April 2020

The Wimshurst influence machine, an electrostatic generator capable of creating high voltages, was developed between 1880-83 by British inventor James Wimshurst (1832-1903).

Specialist firm adopts ‘live but online’ auction selling model

06 January 2020

Scientific instruments and photographica specialist Flints Auctions has opened new premises and is launching a fresh type of sale.

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Pick of the week: No.1 microscope proves it’s still the best

28 October 2019

The opening lot of Flints Auctions’ photographica and scientific instruments sale in Reading on October 18 was an exceptional Victorian microscope.

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Fair sets sights on science

02 September 2019

Dealer Peter Delehar brings an example of a pioneering protractor to the second edition of the Antique Scientific Instrument Fair.

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Apollo 11 footage tops Sotheby’s space auction on 50th anniversary of moon landing

24 July 2019

NASA videotape recordings of the Apollo 11 mission topped Sotheby’s Space Exploration Sale held on the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing.

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