On Display @ Biomed Library: Optical Cards Created by Mary Lewis in 1828

Well, Well, and What Have We Here: Optical Cards created by Mary Lewis in 1828

Card 55: The magic lantern. Optical cards by Mary Lewis, Camp Hill, December, 1828  (BIOMED Ms. Coll. no. 347 RARE)

A mini-exhibit for August 2014 asks (but does not answer) the question: Who was Mary Lewis of Camp Hill (Birmingham, England?) and, in 1828, why did she make 58 carefully handwritten, illustrated flash cards which addressed problems, phenomena, and experiments in optics and vision?

Card 2: A ray of light. Optical cards by Mary Lewis, Camp Hill, December, 1828  (BIOMED Ms. Coll. no. 347 RARE)

Mary Lewis’s cards (BIOMED Ms. Coll. no. 347 RARE), each with a standard embossed border, were purchased by the History & Special Collections for the Sciences section of UCLA Library Special Collections from Samuel Gedge, a dealer in antiquarian books, manuscripts, and ephemera. They are on display at the Louise M. Biomedical Library (1st floor lobby/research commons) through Labor Day, 2014.

Card 33: The angle of vision. Optical cards by Mary Lewis, Camp Hill, December, 1828  (BIOMED Ms. Coll. no. 347 RARE)

This mini-exhibit is part of an occasional series, Well, Well, and What Have We Here, which brings to light (no pun intended) surprising, unexplained, and sometimes unexplainable items from or added to the collections.

Explanations are welcomed.

Card 38: To find what proportion the size of the picture (card 36) bears to the size of the object. Optical cards by Mary Lewis, Camp Hill, December, 1828  (BIOMED Ms. Coll. no. 347 RARE)

The cards are titled:

  1. [Title]
  2. A ray of light
  3. In the same medium, the rays of light are in straight lines
  4. Rays of light may be bended
  5. The same joining of mediums will bend some rays and not others
  6. A ray passing obliquely through a plane glass goes on afterward parallel to its first direction though not in the same line
  7. An angle
  8. The angle of incidence
  9. The angle of reflection
  10. To see an object reflected from a plane looking glass
  11. Parallel rays of light
  12. Converging rays
  13. Diverging rays
  14. The eye sees an object by rays diverging from all the visible points of its surface
  15. A pencil of rays, and a radiant point
  16. A focus
  17. A double convex lens or glass, seen edgewise
  18. A plano-convex lens seen edgewise
  19. A double concave lens seen edgewise
  20. A plano-concave lens seen edgewise
  21. A meniscus or concavo-convex lens seen edgewise
  22. The radius of convexity of concavity of lenses
  23. A triangular prism seen end-wise
  24. The focus of the sun’s parallel rays when transmitted through a double convex lens
  25. Parallel rays become parallel again by passing through two convex lenses placed parallel to each other & at double their focal distance
  26. The focus of the sun’s (or any other) parallel rays, transmitted through a plano-convex lens
  27. Rays diverging from a radiant point in the focus of a lens are parallel after passing through the lens
  28. Rays diverging from a radiant point between a convex lens and its focus will continue to diverge, though in a less degree, after passing through the lens
  29. Rays from a radiant point beyond the focal distance of a convex lens will, after passing through the lens, converge to a point or focus on the other side of the lens
  30. Parallel rays passing through a double concave lens
  31. Parallel rays passing through a plano-concave lens
  32. Parallel rays passing thro’ a solid sphere or globe of glass
  33. The angle of vision
  34. Why an object appears smaller and smaller as we recede further and further from it
  35. A convex lens magnifies the angle of vision, and why
  36. Rays from an object passing thro’ a convex lens, will make a picture of the object in a dark room
  37. To form the picture mentioned on card 36, the object must be farther from the lens than the focal distance of the lens
  38. To find what proportion the size of the picture (card 36) bears to the size of the object
  39. The camera obscura
  40. The multiplying glass
  41. An artificial eye
  42. The human eye, with its coats and humours
  43. The sclerotica & cornea of the eye
  44. The choroides and ligamentum ciliare of the eye
  45. The retina and optic nerve of the eye
  46. The pupil and aqueous humour of the eye
  47. The crystalline and vitreous humours of the eye
  48. The manner of vision
  49. Why an object appears large when it is near the eye, and small when far from the eye
  50. Three patches being stuck on a board, to lose sight of the middle one, whilst both the others are visible
  51. The use of convex spectacle
  52. The use of concave spectacles
  53. Single microscope
  54. Refracting telescope
  55. The magic lantern
  56. The phantasmagoria lantern
  57. The polyphantasma
  58. Prismatic colours.

Card 48: the manner of vision. Optical cards by Mary Lewis, Camp Hill, December, 1828  (BIOMED Ms. Coll. no. 347 RARE)

Russell Johnson
Curator/Librarian
History & Special Collections for the Sciences
UCLA Library Special Collections

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