Bollemeijer & Brans Dutch telescope

 

DSC05800This is a fairly standard design of large three draw telescope, with an OD of 53mm (just over 2”), and a visible objective diameter of 36mm. But it is labelled on the eyepiece end flange as by Bollemeijer & Brans of Rotterdam – which was why it is of interest, as an example of a Dutch telescope.

The telescope construction is exactly the same as UK built equivalents, with five lens positions, the first draw containing two cartridges with two lenses each. These lenses are each glued into the threaded brass mounts, which are then positioned at each end of the cartridge. What seems to be consistent is that these lenses are nibbled at the edges to fit inside their respective mounts, and this nibbling in most of them is evident and affecting the visible part of the lens.

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Thankfully these slight imperfections do not interfere with the image quality, which is very good.

The extended length of the scope is 728mm, nearly 30”: it is fairly heavy (630gms), with a brass barrel, covered with black leather, which is stitched and seems to be the original. There is an objective lens cap, and a winking eyepiece lens cover. Closed up the telescope length is 245mm.

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As mentioned, the scope works well, but the surprise is that one of the draws has to be pushed home by 50% of its travel to achieve a focus on a distant object. The converse of this is that the close up capability is improved, so that objects as close as around 6 feet, ie below 2m distant, can be brought into focus easily.

The Bollemeijer family business

Grandfather (Opa) Bollemeijer started his optical business in Amsterdam in 1924, with his sons: it is possible that the “& Brans” means “and sons” in old Flemish or Dutch. It seems that from WW2 onwards Bollemeijer and his descendants have concentrated on the supply of spectacles, and no longer also produce instruments: they now are employing the fourth generation in the business, located in Heemskerk, closer to Amsterdam than Rotterdam.

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        he Grandfather on the left, and his two sons on the right, in the original shop in the 1920s         (shown in the centre picture)

Obviously in the 1920s, if he had any business in Rotterdam, Opa Bollemeijer and sons Herman and Joop would have seen the need for supply of optical instruments like telescopes to the ship’s crews passing through this port. The photos from the 1920s of their shop (maybe in Amsterdam) show that they were Zeiss agents, dealing with cameras, perhaps more than working with spectacles. The picture of Herman and Joop shows new films and Kodak cameras on the shelves, and magnifying glasses in the display counter in front of them, which could have been made in the shop. So this all does suggest the telescope itself is probably dates from the late 1920s.

Reference #188

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Naval three draw telescope

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This is another medium sized three draw telescope, solidly constructed with brass draws and barrel, but the barrel is decorated and protected with an interesting woven sleeve. The ends of this sleeve are finished off with what looks like a length of rope, but like the sleeve this has no obvious ends, and on close inspection seems to use the same thin wire or nylon cord, wound into the solid structure of the rope. The material is not metallic, so must be something like nylon, but made of six or more strands in a flat band and then woven into the diamond patterned covering.

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This is certainly a man-made woven cover, and not a natural covering like the fishskin or other leather, suede or skin-based coverings often found on older telescopes and instruments. It is obviously very durable, but does not give a further clue as to what use the scope was designed for. It could still be for naval or military (army or cavalry) use, or even for sporting/shooting hobby use.

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The telescope itself is 180mm or 7” long when closed, 42mm diameter, and 460mm long (just over 18”) when fully extended. It has a brass end cap fitting over the objective, and a winking cover that can be used to seal the hole through the eyepiece. There are no marks of engravings on the brass body.

Dating this example is also difficult, but it could be Edwardian or from around WW1.

Reference #300

Liverpool telescope

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This telescope is engraved ‘Wood, Liverpool’ – obviously a maker aiming at customers in the naval market therefore, and a good neat size suitable for a deck officer on-board ship. As such it is the typical size used by ‘Officers of the Watch’ (OOW), at 22” open, but uses three draws, compared to the classic single draw OOW telescope. The advantage of this is that when closed the scope is only 7.25”.

However the design shows that it predates the classic OOW telescope, and was built in the 1800s, ie C19th. First, it uses a wooden barrel, which looks like oak, and this is in very good condition. The brass fittings at the ends of the oak barrel are both secured with three screws, which are modern replacement screws, round headed, but they suit the scope. The originals were probably tiny countersunk screws: obviously these were not quite up to the job, which was fairly normal in the C19th.

The other design feature of note is that the eyepiece is a very square style, fixed to the first draw with three tiny grub-screws. In my opinion this moves the manufacturing date back to around the 1820s.

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Condition

The three draws are in perfect condition, as is the oak barrel. The only real problem in terms of condition is that the fourth lens in the first draw has a crack straight across the diameter, which is visible as you look through, but it does not offset the image seen at all, between the two halves.

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The maker?

The ‘Wood of Liverpool’ is presumed to relate to Benjamin Wood, who worked from 1819 till 1835 in Wapping, next to the docks in Liverpool, and then from 1829 onwards also in Bath Street, further along the dockside. Possibly the business was passed to his son, Benjamin Jasper Wood, who continued working until 1865. From 1847 to 1897 there was a different business that sold telescopes, believed unrelated, run by George Smart Wood, in Prescot Street, Lord St and London Road, amongst other places.

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Pocket Mahogany Telescope

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This is now a beautiful three draw small or pocket telescope, 41cms long when extended, and 142mm or 5.5” when closed. Overall diameter at the objective is 30mm. The barrel has a mahogany outer sleeve, and all the lenses are in good condition. The only things probably lacking are the objective end cap, and the slider in the eyepiece, which many people removed to make the scope easier to use. It works really well – the lenses are very good, possibly implying a good maker in the 20th century.

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This telescope was previously described to be in need of restoration, by the seller, but basically after cleaning the lenses it worked perfectly. There are no significant dents on the tubes – although there is evidence of some damage on the third draw. The barrel outer is a mahogany sleeve, in a thick layer over a metal base tube – which gives the unit good rigidity. This mahogany is too substantial (too thick) to be called a veneer, but it had a crack where the mahogany had shrunk on drying out, presumably. This was filled and stained before re-polishing the barrel, which now shines.

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There are no identifying marks on the tubes, so no makers name. It could date from anywhere between 1850 and 1940, but is probably from the 20th century, mainly judging by the good quality lenses and the good condition.

This one (#317) was sold on Ebay in April 2018, to a collector in Lincolnshire.

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