Go back to article: Philip Carpenter and the convergence of science and entertainment in the early-nineteenth century instrument trade


This article will consider the alignment of scientific and media practice at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Over several decades after 1817 certain instrument makers began to specialise in the domestic entertainment market, transferring skills from optical instrument manufacture to the design of fashionable novelty devices. The instrument trade was expanding into a new middle-class market to exploit an increasing popular trade in optical novelties, exemplified by the 1817 Kaleidoscope craze and new interest among the middle classes for microscopes, telescopes, and magic lanterns. This paper will address this shift towards more popular uses of scientific instruments and optical toys. In particular it will address the involvement of the Birmingham and London optician Philip Carpenter in three popular media formats of the 1810s and 1820s — the 1817 patent Kaleidoscope, 1821 Improved Phantasmagoria Lantern and 1827 Microcosm.

Component DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15180/170707/001