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Microscopic Writing Machine

Hand-coloured print of Farrants with  Peters microscopic writing machine

A hand-coloured portrait print of Robert James Farrants with Peters’ microscopic writing machine.

The 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 soirées to write the Lord’s Prayer and to draw geometrically.

Farrants was President of the Microscopical Society and used the machine extensively. It is shown in the photograph with an additional apparatus attached at 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).

Examples of Microscopic Writings