When 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: one 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
So, 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.
The 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.
The 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!