This telescope has a very standard design, three brass draws, a leather covered barrel, flat ended eyepiece, 29.5” long extended. Looking at the two leather loops on the barrel, suggests the intended use is on a strap for carrying on a belt or over the shoulder, etc: possibly for Army or cavalry use. The impression is that it is a better than average quality, ie good leather, well stitched, good quality brass tubes: between the draws the mounts and sliders are all in good condition, no play – and are built with the threads well recessed and solid shoulders at the tube ends. The eyepiece flat-ish face is black, with some form of coating to the brass, almost enamelled.
So how old is it? Well you could say just pre-WW2, 1930s, Army. Or you could say 1900, or even 1870. You would not suggest it was 1830, it just looks too … modern? But the condition actually makes you realise it’s had a fairly hard life at some time, and survived. The second draw is very stiff, from tube damage. There are dents in the other draws, and the leather at the objective end looks to have lost its surface. The objective lens, which unscrews nicely, is peened into the mount.
Between the two lenses of the objective pair around the edge there is a deposit of some form of dirt or solids. It is possible the objective end has been left sitting in some liquid or moisture, probably for several years, and this has left a deposit – because the two lenses were not quite matched in their internal face curvature, at the edges. I’ve no idea how to get at this without radical interference with the mount.
The maker – Thomas Jones
It does have a maker’s name, engraved on the first draw: and it’s on the right hand side of the draw, ie the ‘T’ of Thomas is next to the eyepiece! Surely this is the old style, pre-1800? The script is neat but flourishing, Victorian or earlier. The address is quoted, “62 Charing Cross, London”: even this implies possibly C19, rather than after the introduction of district letters in London.
Finding Jones in Gloria Clifton’s reference book shows up lots of makers, notably in Liverpool and London. But a Thomas Jones business, active from 1806 to as late as 1860, was at 62 Charing Cross from 1816 onwards. Interestingly, Jones had been apprenticed to, and worked for Jesse Ramsden, from 1789. Ramsden died around 1800, but this telescope shows his influence and style. Thomas Jones later received a Royal Appointment to the Duke of Clarence for his instruments – presumably that was in the 1820s.
So what date do we put on this telescope? I would suggest somewhere between 1816 and 1830, because the address says later than 1816, but the engraving on the right side suggests an earlier date, certainly not after 1830. In addition, from 1831 to 1835 he traded as ‘Thomas Jones and Son’, in partnership with his son, also called Thomas (II). We do not know when Thomas Jones (the father) died, but it was possibly in 1835, when the business reverted to just “Thomas Jones”, and continued trading until around 1860.
Much is described in the introduction: 3-draw, brass, leather clad barrel. Closed length is 9.75”, open it is 29.5”. The OD is 1.875”.
Accession Number #274, acquired March 2016.