Dublin Core


Burning Glass



RDS_treasures_0410.001_Parker_Burning glass.jpg


"Unsigned - attributed to William or Samuel Parker. PyH 1110; HsDs 450 & 250. 1784-1803 (bought 1812). F. Kirwan’s; double; mahogany tripod foot, turned pillar and lens housings; latter on semi-circular iron bracket. The large and small lens housings are joined by eight mahogany bars, and the combination pivots from the sides of the top housing in the supporting bracket; there are two knurled knobs, one at each side of the pivot, which presumably clamped the lenses in position, but do not do so now. A plaque on instrument reads: “The Burning Glass of RICHARD KIRWAN 1735-1812. Purchased from his Executors by the Dublin Society Dec 1812”. The Report of the Committee of Science of the RDS for 1910-11 records as follows: “KIRWAN’S BURNING LENS. Some time ago the Committee learned that the Burning Lens, which once belonged to Richard Kirwan, and which the Dublin Society purchased shortly after his death, was in the Physical Laboratory of the Royal College of Science. Knowing that this interesting relic of one of the foremost scientific men of his time was of little use for teaching purposes, while it possessed great interest to the Society, the Committee recommended the Council to take steps to have it restored to the Society. Application was accordingly made to the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland, and on February 2nd, 1910, a letter was received from the Department stating that arrangements had been made to hand over the Lens to the Society on permanent loan. It may be of interest to note that the first mention of the Lens in the Society’s records is an entry in a manuscript book, entitled ‘Laboratory Want Book’; between the dates November 11th and December 7th, 1812, there is an entry, ‘Burning Lens (Mr. Kirwan’s)’, and opposite this is written in pencil, ‘To be sold for 30 guineas’. The purchase of the Lens at this price was sanctioned at a meeting of the Society on December 10th, 1812 (Proceedings of the Dublin Society, vol. xiix., page 51). "It is hoped that the Society will treasure this memento of the founder of the Natural History Museum.” Smeaton 1987 has details of other Parker lenses; the Science Museum (postcard No. 606) has a similar glass." This description from Mollan, C. (1995). Irish National Inventory of Historic Scientific Instruments. Dublin: Samton Limited, p. 212.


RDS Treasures Collection


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RDS Library & Archives





Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Mahogany, glass, iron

Physical Dimensions

PyH 111 cm; HsDs 45 & 25 cm


RDS Art Collection


No tags recorded for this item.


Anonymus, active 1784-1803, “Burning Glass,” RDS, accessed April 22, 2024, https://digitalarchive.rds.ie/items/show/3863.


RDS_treasures_0410.001_Parker_Burning glass.jpg