Edinburgh World Heritage

94 Hanover Street - Philosophical Instrument Maker

Here at the sign of the ‘Golden Globe’ was the place to buy your spectacles in Regency Edinburgh.

From 1828 this building was the shop of John Dunn, probably the city’s leading optician. His trade card advertised gold, silver, tortoiseshell or steel framed glasses with pebble or glass lenses. For the more adventurous or scientific though he also offered ‘philosophical instruments’ such as telescopes, microscopes, compasses and sextants. You could also buy yourself a magic lantern, to project pictures and amaze your friends.

Dunn was not just a shopkeeper though, he was an inventor and designed an improved pantograph, air pump, barometer, thermometer, graphometers and protractors. In 1840 he was made curator to the Society Of Arts, and he was amongst the early pioneers in photography.

One of his philosophical instruments still survives in the Science Museum – a phenakistoscope. This is an early type of animated film, where you get the effect by spinning a painted disc and looking through slits at its reflection in a mirror.

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