Edmund Culpeper Early Microscope Maker

Male, #46958, (circa 1670 - 1737)
Father*Rev. Edward Culpeper of Gunville, co. Dorset, England (s 1640 - )
Name-AltSpell This surname is sometimes spelled Culpepper. 
Research note* It is possible that Edmund Culpeper Early Microscope Maker and Edmund Culpeper Citizen and Grocer of London are one and the same. 
Name-AltSpell This surname is sometimes spelled Colepeper. 
Birth*circa 1670 He was born circa 1670. 
Biography1698 Edmund provided Peter the Great with scientific instruments during Peter's visit to England in 1698.1 
Birth of Sonsay 1700 His son Edmund Culpeper II was born say 1700. 
Photographedsay 1732 At the University of California at Berkeley, there is (as of Dec 2011) a collection of 157 antique microscopes in the Golub Collection, many from a donation of Dr. Orville J. Golub. Among them are several Culpeper-type Microscopes. See:

The Culpeper-type microscope is an instrument made by the Englishman, Edmund Culpeper (c. 1670-1738). He also made other instruments such as theodolites, sectors, sundials and quadrants. His output of microscopes included not only the three-pillar instrument shown below but screw-barrel microscopes as well.
     The wooden pyramidal case for this instrument has Culpeper's trade card glued to the inside of the back panel. The exact date of its construction in not known, but it is likely in the period of 1730 to 1735.
     The sliding body tubes, made of cardboard covered by tooled green leather (inner tube) and shagreen (the rough dried skin of sharks or rays, on the outer tube), are connected by brass, turned tripod legs to a circular stage with a recessed central opening. The stage, in turn, rests on three similar legs which are fixed into the circular wooden base.
     The concave mirror attaches to the base as well, an original idea of Culpeper's, allowing transparent objects to be viewed by reflection of light from the mirror.
     References: Turner, The Great Age of the Microscope, p. 30ff.

Culpper-Type Microscope
Age: 1730-1735
Made By: Edmund Culpeper
Made In: England.2,3
Culpepper Microscope in Berkeley
Death*1737 He died in 1737.4 
Biography* Edmund Culpeper was an English instrument maker whose name is known to all those who are interested in the history of the microscope. Edmund is credited with popularizing two important elements in microscope design: the sub-stage mirror and the tripod microscope, which is referred to as Culpeper-type.

He was the son of Edward Culpeper, a clergyman, of Gunville, co. Dorset, England. He was apprenticed to one Walter Hayes in 1684, whom he eventually succeeded in business, working as a Mathematical Instrument maker in London from 1700 to his death in 1737. He was the father of Edmund (II), also a Mathematical Instrument maker who was known to have been working in 1758-59. Additional information and references can be found in: Clifton, Gloria, Directory of British Scientific Makers 1550-1851. Zwemmer (pub.), London, 1995.4 
Photographed*1800 At the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX, the Moody Medical Library has a collection of historical microscopes. It's collection includes a Culpeper-type microscope, described as follows:
"The unsigned Culpeper-type microscope has two sets of brass tripod that support the stage and the body-tube. The swinging mirror is attached to the wooden base. The instrument also has the rack-and-pinion system on the outer tube, a feature that was later added to Culpeper-type microscopes. No accessories. About 1800. Unsigned."
Culpepper Microscope in Texas


Last Edited24 Dec 2011


  1. According to Ken Cozens of London, England who stated via e-mail on 5 March 2000 that this fact is published in Britain and Russia in the Age of Peter the Great, Historical Documents, from the School of Slavonic & East European Studies, London 1998, and the actual documentary evidence is listed in "Document 19", p16/17, "Account at the Armoury, dated 17 January 1700, of money disbursed to the British Merchant Andrew Stiles to repay his expenses for the support of Peter I in England". Which is taken from a Russian original.
  2. E-mail written 1998-2013 to Lew Griffin & Warren Culpepper from Charles Edward Culpepper III (#4812), Great Falls, Montana, e-mail address.
  3. E-mail written Dec 2011 to Warren Culpepper from Steven E Ruzin PhD, Biological Imaging Facility, Univ. of CA, Berkeley, http://golubcollection.berkeley.edu/, e-mail address.
  4. E-mail written 5 Dec 2002 to Warren L. Culpepper from Stuart L. Warter Ph.D., (Member of the Microscopical Society of Southern California and Professor of Biology Emeritus, California State University, Long Beach), e-mail address.