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Accession Record : Extracts from Annual Reports for 1943-45 - The Clay Collection

Extract from 'COMMITTEE OF THE MUSEUM OF THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE Tenth Annual Report for 1943-44

'The notable event of the past year was the acquisition of the Clay Collection of Optical Instruments. Through the good offices of Mr. G. H. Gabb, of whose assistance at every stage of the negotiations the Committee wishes to make grateful acknowledgement, the Curator was informed that Dr. Reginald S. Clay, co-author of the standard history of the microscope, wished to dispose of his remarkable and extensive collection of microscopes and other instruments. Dr Clay consented to sell this collection to the University for the low figure of £2,500, of which £1,000 was due on completion and the rest is to be paid in six annual instalments of £250. The University and Colleges subscribed £845 and the Museum has added £155 in order to make up the first payment, but the remainder of the money has still to be found, and it is hoped that Colleges and other benefactors will consent to make small annual contributions to that end. The Clay Collection, as it will be termed, contains a practically complete series of microscopes, 328 in all, ranging from c.1670 down to the 1850s; it also contains some 86 spy-glasses and telescopes, the earliest of which is some fifty years older than anything the Museum previously possessed. When combined with the Museum's present collections these instruments will form a series which will afford exceptional opportunities for the study of the development of the telescope and microscope. The above form the main body of the collection, but there remain some 300 instruments, some of which were formerly unrepresented in the Museum's collections. They include cameras (lucida, obscura, and photographic), vaious precursors of the cinematograph, daguerreotypes, stereoscopes, navigating and surveying instruments, globes, orreries, and barometers. The collection is at present stored in the basement of the Old Ashmolean Building, and although it is now impossible to show more than a very few of the most remarkable objects, the Clay Collection will ultimately be one of the Museum's principal glories.'

Extract from 'COMMITTEE OF THE MUSEUM OF THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE Eleventh Annual Report for 1944-5'

'The principal event of the past year has been the reception and storage of the Clay Collection of Optical Instruments, which received a brief description in the Annual Report for 1943-4. The continued occupation of the greater part of the Old Ashmolean building by the Ministry of Labour has prevented the display of more than a very small part of the collection. This occupation has not ended with the war, but it is unlikely to be prolonged for more than a few months, and some preparation has been made for the display of microscopes, and through the generosity of the Goldsmith's Company, which has implemented its promise of £500 towards this work, the construction of these cases has been put in hand by Messrs. Edmonds of Birmingham and is nearing completion.'

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