Victorian monocular microscope, £4500 at Flints.

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It belonged to Charles Neate (1821-1911), who was one of the oldest members of The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), having been connected with it for 64 years. Along with the objectives, his name was also engraved to the back of the large Y-shaped base and on an elaborately engraved plaque on the case of accessories.

Neate was elected an Associate of The Institution of Civil Engineers on March 2, 1847, and was transferred to the class of Members on March 8, 1859.

Working far from home

After education and training in London, then several years as assistant resident engineer on the Great Grimsby Dockworks, Neate went out to Brazil in 1852 as a civil engineer under the Imperial Brazilian Government.

On returning to England in 1867, he set up a consulting practice in Westminster. Flints said the microscope objectives carry this date “so presumably it was bought with the money he made while abroad”.

It added: “He was probably best known for the varied and extensive engineering work which he carried out or advised on in South America, chiefly in Brazil.”

Projects included the Great Western of Brazil Railway, the Conde d’Eu line, the Donna Thereza Christina Railway and the Southern Brazilian Rio Grande do Sui Railway, Rio de Janeiro Flour-mills and Granaries, Nictheroy Gasworks, and Stockton Bridge (when his work was associated with Harrison Hayter, ICE past-president).

“He also prepared designs, reports and estimates for a number of schemes in Brazil, Cuba, Demerara, South Africa, Naples, Portugal, Spain and Ireland,” said Flints.

Although the microscope is unsigned, one of the objectives is engraved Dixey, Brighton.

However, Flints noted: “The objective is clearly by Andrew Ross with Ross’s internal thread; the microscope, although unsigned, is identical to Edmund Wheeler’s ‘First Class Stand A’ microscope.”

Guided at £2000-4000, the microscope, which stood 20½in (52cm) closed, took £4500 on November 24 in Thatcham, Berkshire.