Camille Sebastien Nachet
1799 - 1881

by Ron Neumeyer, Vancouver, Canada


Camille Sebastien Nachet was a Parisian optician at the beginning of the 19th Century. He began producing lenses for the famous microscope manufacturer Chevalier but later set up his own small business at the address Rue Serpente 16, Paris. He produced his first instruments based on the drum- type base models made previously by other manufacturers. He was succeeded by his son Jean Alfred 1831-1908. Nachet was included with Chevalier and Oberhauser as the three leading makers in Paris at this time.

At the great London exhibition in 1851 both Chevalier and Nachet presented examples of their instruments. On final evaluation and judgment it was announced that although Nachet's objectives were inferior to those of the leading English makers, his instruments were very well designed and made and his lenses better than those presented by other European makers. He was thus awarded a gold medal. Chevalier (his former employer) had to be satisfied with an honourable mention.

When one buys or obtains one of these instruments made by Nachet, one is faced with the almost impossible task of dating it. This is impossible to do with exactness as none of their instruments was given a serial number. There are some tips we can use to date these instruments however, so all is not entirely lost. The earlier instruments had the name "Nachet et fils" inscribed on the bar supporting the main tube or on the base. This simply means "Nachet and sons." The address was also inscribed below the name, the earliest being "Rue Serpente 16, Paris. Since Nachet moved his workshop to another address, namely, "17, Rue St. Séverin, Paris in 1862 then one can assume any instrument with the older address was manufactured between 1856 and 1862. I say 1856 because no evidence or information exists to present about his commoner instruments before this date, although there is evidence of earlier drum-type models.

When his son Albert succeeded him, he changed the company name to simply "A. Nachet." This period ran from around 1880 - 1890. Thus, if you have an instrument signed simply, "Nachet" with address "17,Rue St. Séverin Paris," then you can safely say the instrument dates between 1880 and 1890. The earlier forms up till about 1885 also used the older form of fine focus or micrometer screw system. This consisted of a very long iron rod with very fine thread running its length inserted into the centre of the prismatic brass slide. Over this was placed a strong spring. As the micrometer screw was screwed clock-wise, this depressed the spring and also forced the support tube down the inner prismatic slide. Turning the micrometer screw anti- clock-wise allowed the spring to force the support tube in an upward direction. Nachet decided to introduce the new system on all his models produced from 1885 onwards. If your model uses the former described micrometer system then you can judge the model was probably produced before 1885. After about 1890 the company's name returned to the original of "Nachet et fils."

In Conclusion

(1) If your microscope has the address "16 Rue Serpente then it was probably made between 1856 and 1862.

(2) If it has the name "Nachet et fils" and the address "17, Rue St. Séverin" and the old micrometer system then it probably dates anywhere between 1863 and 1880 (although the catalogues reprinted by Alain Brieux, available from The Gemmary, Calif. will further aid in dating).

(3) If your instrument simply has the name "Nachet" and the Rue St. Séverin address then it's probably from 1880 - 1890, if it has the older micrometer system this dates it from around 1880 - 1885.

Comments to the author Comments to the author sent via our contacts page quoting page url plus : ('rneumeyer','')">Ron Neumeyer welcomed.

Editor's note

Also visit Ron's Light Microscopy Forum website which contains a variety of resources for the microscopist.

Also see Roland Mortimer's illustrated article on a selection of Nachet Microscopes.


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Published in September 1998 Micscape Magazine.

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