Alembic Blog

Keeping Time in Your Pocket - A Rare French Perpetual Calendar & Notebook

This is a remarkable survivor — a French pocket notebook with a perpetual calendar in the cover, published in the late 1830s. Movable parts in books of this age are rare, and the few that survive, such as volvelles, tend to be inside the book. This is the first example I've had where the moving parts are in the cover and are designed for daily use. Given the fragility and ephemeral nature of items like this, it's unlikely that many lasted longer than a few years. 

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Two Georgian Era Magnifying Lenses

New in the shop today are two pretty, Georgian Era magnifying lenses, a jeweller's loupe in lignum vitae and an entomologist's lens in tortoiseshell.

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A Colourful Diptych Sundial & Compass by Beringer

Our latest acquisition is this lovely combination sundial and compass that was probably produced in the workshop of the German craftsman David Beringer during the late 18th or early 19th century. Previously, sundials of this type were luxury items of engraved ivory or metal, but Beringer was one of the first compass makers to realise that using wood and printed paper would bring the price down and widen the market. His workshop flourished between about 1777 and his death in 1821, and his name became synonymous with portable, wooden diptych and cube sundials.

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Tardigrades and other "Marvels of Pond Life": A Classic Book on Microscopes by Henry J. Slack

By the mid-19th century central London was the teeming metropolis recognisable from Victorian literature, but its outskirts were not yet urbanised and there was ample opportunity for amateur naturalists to explore local woods, heaths, ponds, and streams, many of which have now disappeared. If you chanced on one of those ponds in 1860 you might have found a man eagerly scanning the shoreline, examining the clarity of the water, dipping his walking-stick in to draw out clumps of algae and aquatic plants, and collecting samples in small bottles. Following him home, you would see him sit down at a microscope and carefully prepare slides from these samples, peering into the eye-piece and taking notes, perhaps with his wife at his side sketching the little world in each drop of water.

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The Original Weather App: A 1915 Pocket Forecaster by Negretti & Zambra

In addition to books, Alembic also stocks a select group of beautiful and unusual scientific objects. One of my favourites at the moment is this charming, early 20th-century "Pocket Forecaster" by Negretti & Zambra

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