Enbeeco Merlin 20x – 40x: (1950s?)

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This is another relatively modern, aluminium, ‘ENBEECO London’ pancratic telescope. It is very lightly engraved as the “Merlin” 20x – 40x, and is very light in weight: much lighter than the “Petrel” described previously. It is also not anodised, but bare aluminium, which has survived well on all but one of the draws. The construction follows the normal style of brass telescopes, with knurled rings on the end of each draw. These rings do not have sliders, they are very short threads, but joint stability is improved by a ring of felt behind the thread.

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The light engraving on the aluminium draw

Inside the first two draws the two lens cartridges are brass, and look as though they are from an older (brass) telescope design. The leather cover on the barrel is good quality, thick leather, such as would have been used on  an old brass military one. So maybe the Merlin pre-dates the Petrel, ie was from the 1950s?

What is really impressive is the magnification and image quality from the Merlin telescope. Certainly at 40x there is not a lot of light getting in, as the objective is small, 1.1” visible diameter. Plus the field of view is very small, necessarily! Admittedly I don’t often use a telescope wearing glasses, but the Merlin does require the eyepiece to be within about 5mm of your eyeball to see the full image.

Closed the Merlin is 9” long, with all three draws fully open it is 23” long.

Newbold and Bulford

N&B do seem to have a bit of a problem with their company name/image, as they are variously known as Newbold & Bulford Ltd, N&B Ltd London and ENBEECO London.

A Google search produced the following comment from 2015, suggesting Enbeeco was used after WW2. This was in response to a query about an Enbeeco Ranger 55:

“Newbold and Bulford, which eventually disappeared into the Pyser Group, was one of the oldest British optical companies, tracing its origins back to 1796. I used a Ranger for astronomy when I was at school in the 1950s; in those days a three-inch refractor (including those supplied by Newbold and Bulford), cost a fortune. The Ranger was one of the last old-style brass telescopes made in England, reputedly by Ross, which I think closed in 1959. My Ranger was the basic 30X; the Ranger 55 was a 30X-55X zoom, or ‘vari-power’ as they were called then. Each was supplied with the same 41mm objective, and all lenses were uncoated. I have both versions today, and the 30X version is a fine performer showing very little false colour, even on Venus. Enbeeco was the brand name used by the company after World War Two.

In the early 1960s, when suppliers in the Far East, started a big export drive to Western Europe, Enbeeco was one of the first British optical companies to sell Japanese binoculars and telescopes under its own name. In the early 60s in England, you could buy three types of instrument: ‘British’, ‘Japanese’ and ‘Empire’, which usually meant Hong Kong. With some binoculars you could buy coated and uncoated versions of the same glass. HTH”

A 1951 Glass Industry Directory gives the N&B address as Enbeeco House, Roger Street, Grays Inn Road, London WC1.  Other websites show N&B used the name ‘Cub’ as long ago as 1900 for one of their commercial telescopes.

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