John (1706-1761) and Peter (1731-1820)

John Dollond FRS was the son of Huguenot refugees who began his working life in the family business, silk weaving at Spitalfields in London. In his spare time, he educated himself in a range of subjects. Peter, his eldest son, went into business making optical instruments in 1750, and in 1752 his father joined him. Together, they designed, developed and improved a range of instruments, especially telescopes. John is credited with the discovery of the achromatic lens (where a lens is produced by combining 2 convex lenses made from Crown glass with a bi-concave lens made from flint glass between them). However, it seems likely that a man called Chester Moor Hall (1703-1771) actually produced the first achromatic lenses between 1729-1733, but since he never published his work and none of his lenses have survived, this can’t be certain. Dollond was certainly the first to patent such lenses (1858) and the Royal Society awarded him the Copley medal and elected him as a Fellow for the discovery.

The Dollonds obviously didn’t produced everything they sold and some of Cuff’s microscopes now carry the Dollond name plate, presumably having been bought during the sale of Cuff’s stock after his bankruptcy in 1750.

Dollond telescopes sailed with Admiral Nelson and Captain Cook. Other famous clients included Leopold Mozart, Frederick the Great and Thomas Jefferson.

After Peter died, the company passed to his nephew George Huggins, who changed his name legally to George Dollond. It still exists today as “Dollond and Aitchison, opticians”.