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Exhibition label - 'Small Worlds; the art of the invisible' , 30 October 2007 - 6 April 2008

This unique machine was presented to the Microscopical Society of London by its creator, the banker William Peters, in 1862. The movement of the drawing point at the bottom causes a diamond point to engrave in miniature on glass at the top. The reduction ratio can be varied up to 1:6250. The machine was occasionally brought out at Microscopical Society soirees to write the Lord's Prayer and to draw geometrically.

Robert James Farrants was President of the Microscopical Society and used the machine extensively - see opposite wall. It is shown in this hand-coloured portrait print with an additional apparatus attached to the drawing point. This is Ibbetson's geometric chuck, which generates geometrical patterns for the writing machine to engrave in miniature. John Ibbetson first published on the chuck as early as 1817; his other publications on it include Specimens in Eccentric Circular Turning (1835).

[exhibited with an image of R.J. Farrants with Peters' microscopic writing machine]

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