Bought for spare parts…

Just another mid-size two-draw telescope, bought for spares, mainly (I thought) for the eyepiece cap, or the objective lens holder. It looked filthy and old, but had all its lenses, and a nice mahogany barrel: plus the screws looked original, holding the brass to the barrel.


When it arrived, (as is usual) the eyepiece cap thread was too big to fit the other telescope in the collection that needed a replacement eyepiece cover – the original reason for buying this unit. The objective lens holder was too small to be any use on a 10-sided telescope restoration project, so I had failed yet again. But actually the telescope was quite nice. Only labelled “Achromatic, London”, on the sliding cover to the objective lens, it is not easy to date, it could be anywhere between 1880 and 1930.

DSCN5369It has an old design of objective mounting, and neat brass ends to the barrel. Conventional design inside, with two twin lens cartridges. One slight fault: those neat screws at the end of the second draw are actually (as ever) too long, and scrape on the slider holding the draw, when the latter is unscrewed. So they were filed down internally, to clear the brass holder.

How about a clean-up?

An afternoon polishing with Brasso had some excellent results! The black tarnishing of the draws soon fell away, and the whole telescope was transformed. Even the barrel ends are now shining.


There were two surprises. First, on the back face of the slider positioned over the objective lens, there is a price written on there, of 14/0, ie 14 shillings, or £0.70 after decimalisation. Presumably it was sold in a second hand shop at some time after its first owner passed it on. That price would maybe have been reasonable in the 1930s.

DSCN5371The second surprise was that the second draw is fitted with a spacer so as to not let the draw out to as long as it could be – obviously the objective lens used was not as long in the focus as had been expected. No matter, at least it had been noticed, and with the spacer it now does not seem to be necessary to push the tubes in too far to gain a focus.

Some before and after pictures in relation to the polishing are shown below.







Using the telescope, it is actually very effective, which is the main requirement after all, once you have a clean instrument. Good focus, good view and magnification. Total length open is 18.5”, closed is about 8.5”. Objective is 42mm dia, but the optically used diameter of the lens is more like 1”.


Acquired February 2017, Accession Number #299.


7 comments on “Bought for spare parts…

  1. A Collector, who has been collecting as long as you do, should know, that parts from one telescope can almost never be used on another one. And even if they did, you would end up with an Instrument, which is not in its original state. I could somehow understand this method, if it is being done on a super rare example, but on common 19th or even late 18th century pieces? Makes no sense at all. The only thing you achieve is, that people will hesitate to buy from your “for sale” list, beacuse they don’t know, if it is a patched together item.

    • Hi Zane.
      I’m sorry you feel like that: it is not the way I do my business, or present my telescope collection. The spare part needed is for the eyepiece of the “Shuttleworth” telescope, Which is already published and described on this website. If you look at the 9000 or so old aeroplane pics I have published on FlickR, you will see that I am more of an old aeroplane buff than anything else, and that the telescopes were to assist this hobby. Hence the name Shuttleworth is one I held in awe, and had to buy the scope because of the name, despite the condition. I will make it look as good as I can, to put it on the wall, but would not sell that one. Anyway it has 3 lenses missing, from memory.
      I have only ever sold three telescopes, two to knowledgeable collectors, and all were told the history of each as accurately as I could describe it. The only time I hold back on giving info is when I am buying on Ebay, as if you tell the seller what a gem it is, he might put the price up! I do regularly send them a link to the story that is maybe published shortly after the purchase….
      Test me out anytime!

  2. Zane, you will notice I have stopped posting stories on here. Why spend time and energy trying to pass on such knowledge when a response like yours results? Nick

  3. Hi Nick
    I have just purchased a “vintage” telescope off ebay and would really appreciate your input as to its likey provenance. I have read some of your blogs and am in awe of your knowledge. I share you views about Zane.
    Perhaps you could email me.
    It would be greatly appreciated if you could help me.
    Best wishes

  4. Good day
    I have a telescope from the mid 1800’s and would like to find out any information you may know.
    It has a engraving on it that states Ross London 32369 the second engraving states Made for G Falconer & Co, Hong Kong
    It is about 3 ft long extended with leather covering and leather lens cap.
    It is a beautifully well taken care of telescope and would like to find out its history and/or its worth.
    Thank you

    • Hi Valerie-Belle
      If you could send some photos it would help: you don’t say how many draws it has. If it is a single, OOW scope, it is fairly standard for that era: Ross only started numbering after a certain date, I will look that up. The G Falconer would have been a local retailer in Hong Kong, or a ship’s chandler. It was a standard approach to have branded scopes, which still carried the name of Ross as a mark of quality: for example I have one labelled T.F.Weisener from Australia.

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