How to Value Scientific Instruments

Ever since the beginnings of human civilisation, people have yearned to find explanation for the way the world around us works.

scientific instrument on map

While ancient cultures attributed natural phenomenon to the dealings of gods and spirits, as technology began to develop science became an increasing point of interest among scholars and academicians. From Aristotle to Isaac Newton to Albert Einstein, scientists are rightfully credited across the world for providing insight into our understanding of nature, the universe, and ourselves. With science being more fascinating and relevant in our modern lives than ever, it is no wonder that collecting scientific instruments has recently emerged as a niche market. Do you have a scientific instrument that you believe may be worth something? Continue reading so that you can acquire all the necessary tips and tricks in order to find an accurate estimated value for your item.

What are scientific instruments?

Throughout history, scientists have invented and used a great variety of tools and mechanisms in order to assist their study and research. Astronomers, mariners, explorers, and scientists alike have since used these instruments in order to navigate the unknown world around them and make sense of their surroundings up to this day. Not only were scientific instruments extremely useful in regards to their practical purposes, but also doubled as extremely skillfully crafted and intricately designed works of art in their own rite. It is a category that can refer to any number of individual items, including calculators, abacuses, navigational instruments, astrolabes, sundials, globes, barographs, drawing instruments, and more.



One of the first aspects of your item to be taken into consideration in finding its value, is the condition it is in. It goes without saying that the closer to like-new your instrument is, the higher value it will typically possess on the market. The only circumstances in which an exception can be made is if your item is particularly rare, old, and thus sought after. Either way, it is important to take note of any rust, dents, cracks, stains, dullness, missing parts, broken glass, and so on. Even if your item would otherwise possess a great deal of value on the market, nobody wants to invest in something that is almost unrecognizable from what would have been its original state.

Material and maker

The material from which your scientific instrument is made can also make a great difference in its worth. As there are many different objects that fall under the category of scientific instruments, it all depends on what precisely your item is, but precious metals such as silver and gold are always preferable. Bronze and brass can also be highly valued if the item is in overall good condition. 

Also highly influential in determining the market value of your item is its maker. Certain makers are particularly well known for their quality of design and artistry. John Rowley, Smith Beck & Beck, and John Senex are amongst the many different makers who will provide your item extra points with collectors.

" 2017, a Victorian lacquered brass binocular microscope by Smith Beck & Beck sold for £2,000. "

Age & rarity

In the case of scientific instruments, it is typically the older an item is, the more valuable. While modern pieces can be expensive on the retail market, they do not possess the extra value of history and cultural significance that antiques have. For example, modern microscopes might be worth a few hundred at most, while in 2017, a Victorian lacquered brass binocular microscope by Smith Beck & Beck sold for £2,000. 


Of course the most important measure take in obtaining an accurate value estimate for your item is to seek professional appraisal. Only a professional in the field has the years of training and expertise necessary to eliminate as much margin for error as possible so that you can have full confidence in the true worth of your item. Even the most thorough and well-researched amateur is likely to forgo the details that are crucial to take note in finding an estimate. Luckily there are such professional appraisers here at Value My Stuff so that you can seek expert valuation and be on your way towards finding how much your scientific instrument is worth today!

Upload a photo
Upload a photo of your item
Item is appraised
Experts appraise your item
Receive appraisal
We send you your appraisal