I have a keen interest in reference books and have always been fascinated with all of the associated paraphernalia that clutters desks and libraries/studies. One bit of clutter that never goes out of style is the table top magnifier or map optical glass. The typical magnifying glass is solid brass, freestands on three legs, and has a threaded barrel to allow the user to fine adjust the distance of the glass to the table top. Nearly all antique versions of this handy device have these three features. While antique versions are available on the market, I couldn’t pass up the mint condition Van Cort Instruments version shown below.
These reproduction magnifiers (and several varieties of kaleidoscopes) were made in the mid to late 90’s, which is verified by the included paperwork that is copyrighted “1993”. Van Cort Instruments is still in the antique telescope repair business, but they no longer make small reproduction items on a regular basis. This is a real shame because the attention to detail on this optical glass is superb. With the exception of a short plastic tube internally separating the two glass lenses and the “Van Cort Instruments” text, one would be hard pressed to detect the difference between this glass and an antique.