Worthington + Allan tapered scope

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This telescope was bought on Ebay in March 2018, from a guy in Aylesbury. It looked an absolute wreck: I wanted it because the maker, Worthington and Allan, was the partnership that took over the business of Matthew Berge when he died in 1820. Earlier Berge had been apprenticed to, and then taken over from Ramsden: both had made high quality instruments for astronomical observations and also general use. You will notice that some of the best telescopes in this collection have come from Ramsden or Berge, they were an offshoot business from the original Dollond family.

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Nathaniel Worthington had been an apprentice to Berge, at 199 Piccadilly, London, and the partnership with James Allan lasted from 1821 to 1834, located at 196 Piccadilly.  In 1834 Allan dropped out, and Nathaniel continued working under his own name until 1851. So this telescope dates from around 1830, and indeed it has the lens quality and build quality you would expect from such a firm.

The scope is my reference #319.

Description

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The scope has one single draw, and a long, tapered barrel in wood, apparently mahogany. Open it is nearly 80cms long, when closed it comes down to 66cms. On arrival, both of the brass to wood joints at the two ends were loose, basically the grub-screws had rusted away, and the wood around the screws had also rotted, so the holes were too big.

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Also the barrel was sleeved in a fairly badly fitting brown leather cover: the stitching was intact but it appeared to have shrunk by 1cm at each end, compared to what would have been a good fit. This did not appear to be an original part of the telescope, but a subsequent addition – possibly mimicking the metal barrelled telescope designs of the later, Victorian era.

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The major damage visible on this telescope is unusual – the brass mount at the eyepiece end of the barrel has had a major part, maybe an eighth of the circumference, torn out, without making any damage to the barrel wood beneath.

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The single draw has two lens cartridges, one at either end. The engraving on the first draw is noticeably on the “wrong” side of the telescope, as used in the C18th: this was just being phased out finally in the 1820s.

Renovation

The original condition above is shown in the photos from the Ebay description, and there follow some photos taken during the renovation work.

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There was not much that could be done to repair the broken area of the brass fitting: also the screws would not come out, so to secure the brass in place, and prevent the wobble, Superglue was used to fix it to the barrel. At the other end, the objective lens housing used round headed screws that were loose in the holes, so these were removed. New brass screws were fitted, in a different part of the wooden structure.

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The leather cover over the wooden barrel was slipped off, and the barrel paint/varnish removed with sand-paper. It was noticeable that it was a very red varnish, in some ways resembling paint. Another large tapered scope in the collection by Dollond, possibly from this period, also has this red appearance, as does the scope that is named after Jervis: see the links quoted below.  The colour came off easiest with sand-paper at the point that would have been the hand-hold, half way along. The barrel was then coated with French polish, which brought it up with a good mahogany red colouring.

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Barrel during sand paper treatment of the old varnish

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Finished barrel after French polish and wax

All brass fittings were rubbed hard with Brasso, then machine polished, and then polished again with Brasso, so they have nearly recovered to a light brass colour.

Similar scope designs

Some of the other samples of this style of scope are present in the collection: they are prized because they are so easy to use hand-held, like the original Dollond eight sided unit from the 1760s, and because of the long length they have a good magnification.  Ideal for spotting light club aircraft flying overhead.

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The scope that shows the parentage of the design is the Matthew Berge unit, reference #112. This is described on the page

https://telescopecollector.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/single-draw-large-wooden-scope-by-berge/

You will remember that Worthington worked with Berge and then took over the business.

A second similar unit is the Dollond, reference #58, shown on page

https://telescopecollector.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/c18th-dollond-with-tapered-body/

This unit has a split eyepiece tube, giving access to the lenses, a difficult design, but one which enabled the use of a smaller brass tube, which was presumably the best or only style available. There is then the Dollond ref #297, a more recent acquisition, shown on page

https://telescopecollector.wordpress.com/2016/12/20/a-tapered-dollond-from-1770/

Here again the later added leather sleeve was discarded to great effect: it is rather a long scope to hand hold for use spotting light aircraft!

The John Jervis (aka Earl St Vincent, after the major battles that brought Nelson to fame) telescope, also of a similar design, is discussed in the story about telescopes linked to Alresford, where I live: see

https://telescopecollector.wordpress.com/2016/07/22/naval-and-telescope-links-to-alresford/

Another story describes the telescope itself, and the renovation work on that:

https://telescopecollector.wordpress.com/2015/12/04/captain-sir-john-jervis-1735-1823/

The Ramsden telescopes I have tend to be smaller, three draw units: typically they are the only ones I could afford, made by Ramsden, as his models demand a high price, because of the quality. They also are not often seen on sites such as Ebay! These small units are described on this website too.

Original intended use

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No way would this large scope be considered for cavalry or Army use, it is too big anything other than naval/coastguard use, where space and a handy support spar or post would be available to lean against. The magnification is high for a telescope, maybe 30+, a significant advantage when spotting sails on the horizon.

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