Annals of Science 61 (4):407-452 (2004)

The eighteenth century was an era in which science came to play a major role in the cultural ideal of the city elite. The phenomenon of the ‘gentleman-scientist’ arose: a layman without a scientific education who for a variety of often socially desirable reasons devoted himself to scientific endeavours. Scientific instruments were the tools for this interest. This article describes the introduction, diffusion, and construction in the Netherlands of one of the most prominent eighteenth-century instruments: the reflecting telescope. The reception of this instrument casts new light on the usually almost invisible network of gentleman-scientists and instrument-makers in this region. The specific economic and political factors of the Netherlands led to a totally different development of this instrument compared with the ‘motherland’ England. Whereas in Great Britain the reflecting telescope was a great success well into the nineteenth century, in the Netherlands it became a symbol of technical inability and stagnation
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DOI 10.1080/00033790410001654890
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