A large naval telescope


Dating from maybe the 1820-1850 period, this is a large single draw naval telescope: it looked pretty tatty to start with, and had no maker’s name, so I decided it was a good candidate to test out selling such items on Ebay. After cleaning all the lenses up, and polishing the brass, it turned out to look quite smart, with no damage or marks on the single draw tube, all the lens covers present and operational. Quite a reasonable specimen, with a good quality wooden veneer over the main part of the barrel.

Nevertheless it is to be sold, as a trial to see what a good specimen can raise on Ebay. It went on sale in October 2014 on a 7-day auction, with a £0.99 start price, and no reserve, and we will see how far it gets. I would be disappointed at less than £70!

Ebay description:

DSC01934This 37.5” telescope is a totally complete example of this vintage style, probably dating from early Victorian times, or even earlier – say within the date range 1820-1850: judging by the large size it was probably designed for naval, ie shipboard use. Unlike many other examples, it has both the objective lens sliding cover and the eyepiece lens slide in place and fully functioning. The eyepiece is shaped in the early Victorian bell style. The objective lens cover also totally unscrews from the end of the sunshade, presumably to give a wider aperture for use in low light conditions.

The telescope works and focuses well: all internal lenses are original and a large diameter. The single draw tube has no signs of any damage, and splits in half to give access to the second set of lenses. At the eyepiece end there is a discharge hole to allow the air to escape when closing the scope. All screw-threads function smoothly. The draw tube brass has no dents or damage, and has a good reflective surface (- it is a true brass colour, in case the pictures make it appear silvered).

DSC01949aThe external brass surfaces were presumably coated in lacquer, giving the now more golden coloured appearance. In places there is some corrosion (brown marking) under the lacquer, as visible on the photos. The main barrel is made of metal, which is visible on the inside, but it is covered with a mahogany sheet on the outside (except for the 1.5″ to 1.75″ sections at either end), which shows no signs of any deterioration or becoming detached: the lengthwise crack visible in the photo is presumably the joint at the edges of this sheet.

Overall the telescope maximum length including sunshade is 37.5”, and when closed it is 20” long. Outside diameter is 2.5” max, the main barrel is 2.25” approx.

DSC01946There is no maker’s mark, but the unit is well made, and appears to have been little used for a 175 year old antique. However, in two places, on the sunshade and on the brass on the eyepiece end of the main barrel, the name “G. Slade” has been lightly free-hand engraved onto the lacquered brass: this was presumably the owner’s name. While the engraving is free-hand it is by a competent engraver – please see the photos, which attempt to show the result fairly.

The telescope weighs 1.33Kg.

What do you think it will fetch?

The two aspects that people who like large telescopes might not like are the brown marks under the edges of the lacquer on the brass, and the  fact that a previous owner has engraved his name on the brass. Both would possibly polish off, and I guess the smooth bore would be a fine place for him to add his own name! I suppose that is another way of looking at it. But the interesting thought is that G Slade only owned the telescope for maybe 30-50 years of what could have been a 150-175 year life. It certainly looks like it has been stored away for a fair few years. I bought it on Ebay maybe two/three years ago, but did not record how much it had cost – probably £40-50.

Accession Number 199, it actually sold for £82, plus £10 P&P.