Menu Close

Camera Lucida (P. Berville)

Physics · Astronomy

This is a silver item in a long rectangular black box lined with red velvet. The exterior of the box is black with a leather finish. There is a small pin at one end; pulling this pinout a short distance releases the box latch and allows the box to be opened.

The instrument is silver coloured and consists of a long, extendable rod with a clamp attachment at one end that can be tightened by turning a ridged knob. Various knobs along the rod allow it to be fixed into place. At the other end of the rod to the clamp, there is an arm attached via a rotating knob. This arm has a black section in which there is fixed a very small prism. The black section has slots into which small lenses can be inserted and held in place by tightening a knob.

Also in the box are twelve small rectangular lenses, each with an individual velvet slot for storage. Each of these has a small number 1-12 engraved on it. Tucked underneath the prism end of the rod there is a soft chamois cloth.

With the book, there is a handbook providing instruction, in French, on how to use the instrument.

Accession Number: 2019.ast.206

Alternative Name: Chambre Claire Universelle

Primary Materials:

Box: Wood, Textiles, Leather; Instrument: Metal: Iron Alloy, Glass, Textile.


Engraved on the clamp: “CHAMBRE CLAIRE UNIVERSELLE
P. BERVILLE 18 Rue LaFayette, PARIS”

Stamped in gold on the underside of the lid: “P. BERVILLE


Dimensions (cm): Height = 3, Width = 6, Length = 27.5.


The reproduction of a scene or image on paper, or the enlargement or reduction of an image.


Excellent: The box is slightly dusty but is in excellent condition. The instrument appears unused and is in perfect condition. All the components are present.

Associated Instruments:

Manufacturer: P. Berville, Paris

Date of Manufacture: c. 1929-1930s?


This item does not appear used. This item was likely kept in storage at the David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill until the sale of the Observatory in 20009. Then it was moved to the University of Toronto’s Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics at the St George Campus. In 2017 it was moved to a new storage location in McLennan Physical Laboratories.

Additional Information and References:

Historical Notes: