A Presentation Telescope, from Ireland


A specially engraved presentation telescope usually gives a lot of background, like the date, and the first owner. In addition they are usually good quality telescopes, to start with!


DSCN1643The telescope looks pretty impressive: it is a single draw, tapered barrel model, 40” long when fully open and with a 2.5” objective. The barrel is wood, covered in tan leather – the stitching is good, but the leather looks like it has had an attack by very small mice, or maybe even woodworm or grubs! The eyepiece is of the flat ended style, which had been replaced in many cases in England with the rounded bulbous style by Queen Victoria’s reign. The brass end fittings are in good condition and the single draw is engraved H Hunt of Cork. The lens assemblies are in two carriers and these are well made. Apparently, maybe 60 years later, this design of telescope was referred to as a Coastguard general observation telescope.

The shoulder of the barrel near the eyepiece is 2” long, giving a good area for the presentation engraving, which is actually quite long-winded – but then again it is Irish. It tells who bought the telescope, for whom, and when:


John Francis Maguire




as a small token of gratitude

for many services rendered

as Commander of the Bristol and Cork

Steam Ship Company’s


and especially for having on two occasions

brought over by express from Bristol

Copies of the Queen’s Speech for the

Cork Examiner.

CORK JANʸ 21st 1847.


Henry Hunt in Cork

The Hunt family in Cork were optical instrument suppliers from the early 1800s, starting with Thomas and John. Henry Hunt took over at 118 Patrick Street in 1844, so this telescope in 1847 was early during his management of the firm. He continued in business in Cork until 1884. He must have been significant, in that Gloria Clifton lists him in her British Scientific Instrument Makers Directory, 1550-1851, but I suppose in those days Southern Ireland was indeed within the “British” definition.

DSCN1641 It’s an easy scope to use, as the light barrel enables it to be moved about without much effort – when tracking aeroplanes at least! I wonder where Captain Gilmore used it……

I’ve now passed this on to a colleague, who has links with interested parties in Cork, so it could shortly return to Ireland, maybe on another boat trip!

Accession number #222

Dollond 4 draw, mahogany barrel – a good punt!

DSCN1633aWhen you scan Ebay and find a “Dollond 5 draw”, it’s bound to be worthy of attention. This one was really different, by the shape of the eyepiece, but the description only had two pictures, not that they showed very much. It was described as “possible Navel”, which maybe described the shape of the eyepiece, rather than the intended use. The final downer was that mid way thru the auction bidders were advised “there are no lenses inside”.

Sometimes you have to take a punt. And I apologize to ‘m***m’ who was the only other bidder who also thought like that – he only pushed the price up to £47.99. The telescope duly arrived, and really did have 4 pulls, or ‘draws’. The really attractive part to me, apart from the eyepiece shaping, was that it had two joints in the first draw, to access the lens positions: DSCN1637aone lens was indeed missing, the second. hree eyepiece lenses, the first, third and fourth were present. To me, the split draw does indicate an early date of telescope, I estimate around 1800-1820. The eyepiece shape maybe pushes you to an early date too. This design introduces a problem for the user, in that it is slightly difficult to pull out quickly, because there is little to get a grip on. So maybe it predates the Georgian/ Victorian bell-end type eyepieces, which must have been a subsequent design. The engraved “Dollond, London” is on the left, the more modern style, not the right, as it would have been in the 1700s.

The missing lens

DSCN1634aSo, a lovely telescope, missing lens 2. Most of the lenses in this position are of a large diameter, very convex towards the objective: a spare lens of this type did not seem to work, ie to make the telescope focus properly. So a replacement lens assembly, consisting of lens 1 and 2 was tried, but that did not work either. Eventually a slightly smaller diameter dual convex lens in the lens 2 position was tried, mounted with Blu-tak, and the scope focused, but the field of view, ie picture size, was minimal. So the current solution is a similar, but larger lens, superglue-d into a minimal rubber ring mount, which gives a reasonable field and a decent focus. But the scope has to be used without spectacles on, the eye has to be very close. The search goes on for a better lens fitting, a larger diameter to improve the size of the visible view.

Mahogany barrel

DSCN1636The wooden barrel looked drab. This was mainly down to the brown paint that had been added over the French polish. A couple of hours of scraping removed the caked paint, down to some lovely looking mahogany, with a couple of splits along the length. Sanding, re-gluing the splits, and polishing the barrel brought it up to a beautiful deep mahogany colouring, a process which continues with further coats.

Unusually, this telescope brass responded well to machine polishing and buffing. The objective housing has had a couple of sharp cuts from knocks, but the lens screws in straight and smoothly. The eyepiece seems to be more of a bronze than a brass.


DSCN1635aThe length of the telescope is the one thing you can’t hide. When closed it is only 11.5”. Open, fully, it is 44”, or 1.22m. When in focus it is only 41” long, and the second split on the first draw is hidden under the second draw. It is actually very light to hand hold, and the focus is soft, ie a lot of movement is tolerated in the focal point. So setting the first draw at the mark made in the metal is accurate enough to use. Currently the only slight problem with hand holding is the limited field of view, meaning the flexing of the joints for the draws is noticeable.


A 41” long Dollond mahogany barrelled Naval telescope, 4 draw, unique design, dating from maybe 1800-1820. Restored to being in working order with a new lens added, but this lens probably is the reason for the limited field of view/relatively small image diameter. The search continues for a more suitable lens. The telescope would probably be worth somewhere up to £500 in a proper sale. But it was a pleasure to have seen and brought it back to life. The following pics show the before and after condition, in as much detail as the Ebay seller’s pics gave -I’m sorry I didn’t take my own “before” pics!

Ebay pic before:                                                                Then my pics after polishing!

Dollond 5 draw as sold (2)



Dollond 5 draw as sold