Gilbert & Wright scope, circa 1800

Another telescope that came from the ‘Navigation Warehouse’, at 148 Leadenhall Street, London, at around 1800. See the previous comments about the people working there in the story about the Gilbert telescope, loaded onto this website on 24 Dec 2016. This was the place to go to, if you wanted the best in telescope making expertise for a particular duty, whether astronomical or nautical.


In fact Gilbert worked in the partnership Gregory, Gilbert & Wright – from 1790-93. This telescope however is labelled as from the Gilbert & Wright partnership, which is quoted to have operated between 1790 and 92, and again between 1802 and 1805: in both periods they were based in the Navigation Warehouse.

The design is unusual, for the date, which is 1790-1805, 210 to 223 years ago. It is presumably a specially commissioned unit for a specific task, ie it was custom built for one of their customers, to his specification.

Who was the Customer?

This telescope is a two draw, completely brass unit. It is large in size, being 37.75” (96cms) long when fully extended: the length when focussed is considerably shorter, at 30.5” (77.5cms). This does mean that completely extended, it will give a focus on an object about 5 feet away from the objective, if you might wish to do that! But an advantage of the travel of the first draw is that there is around 1cm of movement where a distant object remains in a fairly good focus to the observer. The OD of the objective lens holder is nearly 2”, actually 4.9cm.


Fully closed up the length is 15.25”: there is no sunshade or lens cap to protect the objective lens. On the eyepiece there is a slider that moves across the lens aperture: the second smaller aperture in the slider appears to originally have had a lens or filter mounted in there. Possibly located here was a deep red ruby filter (which restricts the light passing through to the eye, and so allows the telescope user to look at the edges of the sun, or at sunspots). Whether this means it was a telescope for use in an Observatory or similar I’m not sure. The generally ‘unfinished’ nature of the construction, with no protective covering on the barrel, no sunshade etc, might also imply it was not intended for outdoor (ie shipboard) use.

The Engraving

Another possible use might have been as a “lower magnification” aiming telescope, to be attached to a larger magnification scope in an Observatory. There are no obvious mounting points for this telescope, so it must have been strapped in place in some way. But the interesting positioning of the words engraved on the first draw, around the eyepiece, implies that the normally expected reader was maybe looking normally downwards, towards the top of the eyepiece: the words are then written horizontally, to this view, on one side of the draw, but around the curve of the brass tube.

DSCN5383The actual engraving says



Improved Telescope

…and the positioning on the first draw can be seen from the photograph.

Further data

Inside the first draw, the two eyepiece lens cartridges are fairly conventional in design: the first one (near the eyepiece) is engraved along the length with the words “SMALLEST POWER”. Presuming that another cartridge of higher power was supplied for the telescope (a standard approach with astronomical instruments) then this would explain the need for the first draw to be pushed in a long way to achieve focus – the other (missing) eyepiece might need to work with a focal point much further out.

Each draw is marked with an arrow, plus there are two arrows on the main barrel, pointing towards the objective. In my view this indicates the desirable orientation (rotation position) of the two draws, to get the parts of the telescope lined up in the original, ‘ex-factory’ setting.

The telescope was bought on Ebay in October 2016, for £87 including carriage, and there were no other bidders. Whether it is relevant I don’t know, but it came from Dorchester. Obviously there were not many people interested in a curious design of a 215 year old telescope! It did have a well-respected name….in a curious orientation, which is why I chased it.

Accession Number #293.


JT Coppock 1960s Telescope

So, it is a real change to introduce a telescope from a different manufacturer to this website, particularly one from Leeds….in the provinces even! A centre of industry, yes, but not at all qualifying as a major shipping port – but that did not matter in the C20. It also happens to be where I lived when I first started using a telescope, also in the 1960s.


This telescope was made by J T Coppock, of Leeds: it is a 3 draw unit, with an additional, short fourth draw which provides variable magnification. Normally referred to as ‘Pancratic’, this works by extending the distance between the two eyepiece cartridges. On this telescope the variable magnification is quoted to range between 10x (closed) through 15x, to 25x (fully extended), and these figures seem like reasonable estimates for the magnification achieved.


Maximum length of the telescope with everything extended is 21”. Closed up it is 7.25”, and the barrel diameter is 1.625”. All the metalwork, which feels like brass, is grey in colour, as a result of some form of anodising. The barrel is sheathed in brown leather, stitched along the joint. The lens cartridges and the mounts for the draws are all very conventional in design.


J T Coppock (Leeds) Ltd

I have not been able to find any data on an optical instrument maker named J T Coppock so far. The unit looks as though it dates from after WW2, from the 1950s or 1960s.

In the 1950s and 1960s, James T Coppock (Leeds) ltd was importing Antoria guitars from Japan, and indeed both Hank Marvin and Jeff Beck played one, as did Big Jim Sullivan when he was playing with Marty Wilde. James T. Coppock ceased trading in the early 1980s and Antoria guitar production ceased then, only to be resurrected later.


Background Data

This telescope was bought on Ebay  in June 2016, from branneysattic – part of the drive to add some more modern examples to the collection. It is Accession Number #279

Baleen covered silvered Cutts telescope

This telescope is a totally different style to any of the others bearing the name JP Cutts that you will have seen on this website, or anywhere else! It’s actually a very nice example of the type – a four draw white metal plated telescope, with a Baleen covered barrel.


Probably not ethically or politically correct these days, Baleen is the material from the mouth of a Baleen whale, or a Bowhead whale (who have the longest strips of Baleen), the substance that creates a filtering system. The whale sucks in a lot of water and krill, then expels the mixture through the Baleen filter lengths, which hang down like a curtain from its top jaw, making a vertical blind-like curtain across the mouth, trapping the krill on the filter elements. It is a black plastic like flat strand, which is actually made of Keratin (a similar material to human fingernails).


In Victorian times the by-products of whale hunting were available, so why not use this long strip of Baleen to wrap around a telescope barrel?

The white metal coating on the four draws would seem to be a chrome coating, in that it has not tarnished the way that silver would have done, even during the time I have owned it. Very effective as a plating solution for such things.

The maker – James Sutton, actually

The engraving is “JP Cutts, Sutton and Son”, note the lack of a plural ‘Sons’, “Opticians to Her Majesty, Sheffield & London”. Whether we interpret anything from the sideways displacement of each line, I’m not sure: the “London” could have been added to the third line later.


John Sutton’s son, James, had joined the firm by 1852, and the name then changed to ‘J.P. Cutts, Sutton, & Son’. The 1854 Post Office Directory of Sheffield included “Cutts JP, Sutton & Son, Opticians to her Majesty, 39 Division Street, Sheffield, & 56 Hatton Garden, London, & 248 Pearl Street, New York”.

So this dates the telescope as after 1852.

John Priston Cutts died on 8 September 1858, at his Sheffield home. John Sutton died six months later, on 26 April 1859, aged 71. The optical business was reorganized in 1860 under the sole ownership of James Sutton, the son. He was a skilled optician, presumably having apprenticed with Cutts. James retained the business name JP Cutts, Sutton, & Son, presumably because of the Cutts reputation. Gloria Clifton fails to give any info about when this firm ceased trading: the 1891 Census returns show him still listed in Sheffield as an optical instrument manufacturer, then aged 69. The earlier 1861 census showed he employed 25 men, 6 boys and 19 women and girls: in 1881 these numbers had reduced a little, to 14 men, 8 boys and 8 women. Nevertheless, this shows James had a strong business over more than twenty years, and the firm was trading from 1852 until at least 1881.

This Telescope described

dscn5217xxThe telescope has 4 draws, and is 22” long extended. It is 6.75” when closed, so a good pocket size. OD is 1.75”, 1.625” for the barrel. There is a similarly silvered end cap over the objective, but regrettably the eyepiece cover is totally missing. It would have been a flat ended cap, with an internal thread to match the 0.9” OD thread on the outside of the first draw. If anyone has one of these spare, I’d be delighted to buy it. Having been thru all my telescopes, there is only one that seems anything near to the same size and thread, but I have to see if I can adapt it and silver plate it! It was on telescope #106, a small scope from Gowans of Dundee.

The joints between the first two draws were loose, in terms of holding the draw extended and in-line, as the telescope was handled. This seemed to be because the internal liners in the draw mounts were missing. In the other draws these liners are glued in place, between two shoulders positioned at each end. They appear to be made of thin hide/leather, and make a better low friction mount than was achieved by the previously fairly standard ‘U’ shaped cut-out flaps in such joints. The plan was to replace these, as they provide friction to hold the telescope draws in place, as well as keeping them aligned properly. It has been achieved with two pieces of thin leather, cut to fill part of the recess in the metal slider: they are not stuck in place, and make a good friction fit for the joints. I just need to remember not to remove the sliders completely!

dscn5227The final, largest draw mount, that screws into the barrel of the scope, is decorated with a form of ivy-leaf pattern around the exposed rim – as well as having a knurled edge, which all the draws exhibit.

Around the barrel, a single length of black Baleen is wound round to cover a 5.25” length, in 22 turns. The Baleen is one long strip around 0.25” wide, and ridged along its length with around 7/8 grooves. Presumably it is glued down onto the metal of the barrel, at least at each end. A quick calculation makes the length of this Baleen strip around 112″, or over 9 feet! A very large whale’s mouth.

Other data

Who would have used this telescope? Probably it is a well-turned out Gentleman’s accessory, possibly the Master or a passenger on a trading ship. I don’t think it would have been used by an Army or Cavalry officer for military duties, its a little too shiny, bright and conspicuous.

I bought it from an Ebay trader based in the South-west of England in December 2010. It has Accession Number #142, and inside the end cap it had a previous sale price scratched on the metal, which was 50 shillings (GBP 2.50) – obviously some long time before when I bought it!


Single draw large wooden scope by Berge

There are several telescopes made by Matthew Berge already described on this website, and they give the detail of his background and business. In summary, he was an employee of Jesse Ramsden, one of the major telescope makers around the end of the 1700s, who had married into the Dollond family. Berge took over the business when Ramsden died in 1800, and subsequently labelled his telescopes as “Berge London, late Ramsden”.


So this telescope dates from 1800, or up to ten years later. Because it is a single draw, wooden barrel, you might tend to think that it is an older design, and was maybe being superseded by the 3 or 4 or 5 draw brass units he produced so effectively. Possibly the all-brass units were popular with the Army, ie the Cavalry officers, when maybe they could


Wooden barrel, mahogany, 2.25″ OD  

rest them on a tree or rock, to survey the scene: plus they preferred a short unit when it was closed down – easier to pack onto a saddle. But naval officers, and ship’s officers, continued to prefer and use the long single barrelled units for most of the nineteenth Century. Wooden barrel designs also have the advantage that they are light in weight, in the barrel, so a long telescope is easier to hold steady on a distant target, as the weight of the unit is balanced, around the pivot point of the second hand in the middle of the scope.


dscn5208Closed up the telescope is 26.5” long, and extended the length is 38”. The single draw, which is made from 1.75” OD brass tubing, has a joint very close to the mounting flange on the end of the barrel section. Inside this break, the lens cartridge is very long, compared to others, and has a mounting shoulder separated from the mounting thread by over 3” – so is very stably and accurately aligned.


Brilliant! A really big image, giving a wide angle of view, but still a good magnification. Used at close range in the garden it gives an image with apparent depth, like a binocular would.

Bits missing

dscn5205Trouble is, there are some bits that are missing. Most obvious is the eyepiece cover, probably a bell shaped cover, that screwed onto the outside of the single draw, on the thread there. The function was to position the eye of the user about an inch from the lens at the eyepiece end. The lack of this cover is not a problem if you prefer to wear your spectacles when looking thru the scope, it actually helps a lot. But the eye still needs to be positioned on the centre line of the scope tubes.

dscn5207Second, presumably there was an objective lens cap, used to protect that lens, but that cap is missing. The shoulder where it would have fitted is clearly identifiable.


Bought on Ebay in October 2005. Accession number #112.

JP Cutts single draw Naval telescope

Another popular telescope maker already featured on this website is JP Cutts, where two models of his have been described: these were a two draw and a three draw, both with wooden barrels. The two draw was interesting, in that it had an oak barrel, and was signed as JP Cutts & Sons, plus the second line of the engraving saying “Opticians to Her Majesty” (Queen Victoria). This one was sold last year on Ebay, fairly quickly. The three draw unit was obviously earlier, as it had no reference to the appointment to “Her Majesty”, and just mentions “JP Cutts” and no ‘Sons’ – but it quotes the JP Cutts being based in London, which Gloria Clifton dates as after 1836.


This telescope is a single draw with an oak barrel, a design that suggests it is earlier in date maybe, but the format was a popular design for shipboard use. The engraving first line says “JP Cutts & Sons”, which marks it as from a later date, as his sons are quoted to have joined the business in around 1841-45. The second line of the engraving again quotes the “Opticians to Her Majesty” line, so again, it must be dated as after Victoria’s Coronation in June 1838. Possibly only a short time after, as the word ‘Her’ is obviously squeezed into a smaller space than would have been desirable, possibly replacing the word ‘His’. But having seen many other JP Cutts telescopes, I have never seen the engraving using any different (better) spacing.

JP Cutts History

dscn5095I recently found a new account of the JP Cutts history. This advises that John Priston Cutts was born in Leeds in February 1787: one of the reasons JP Cutts interests me is that he was Yorkshire based, a fellow Yorkshireman. He was apprenticed as an optical craftsman with the Sheffield company of Proctor and Beilby: this firm also had factory addresses in Birmingham, and operated in both places around 1804 [Two brothers named Beilby were later reported working in Bristol around 1810-1820]. In his later advertising Cutts suggests that he started his business in 1804 (ie aged 17): this was either the start or end of his apprenticeship.

The earliest known business address for JP Cutts is in an 1822 Sheffield Directory, at 58 Norfolk Street, Sheffield. Around 1828, he moved the business to Division Street, Sheffield, and it remained there until his death. In addition to optical instruments, Cutts manufactured metal implements such as razors, knives, powder flasks, and liquor flasks.

Cutts opened a branch shop / warehouse in London, probably in about 1836. That year he entered a trademark as a spectacle case manufacturer, with an address of 3 Crane Court, Fleet Street. That venture appears to have been very short-lived, as an 1839 advertisement stated “Late warehouse in London, removed to Sheffield”. He was also said to have had a branch office in New York, briefly.


During the 1830s, Cutts became associated with James Chesterman (1792-1867). Chesterman invented a number of devices, including the spring tape measure and a self-winding window blind. An 1837 directory of Sheffield listed “Cutts John Preston, optical, mathl. and philosl. instrument mfr. and sole mfr. of Chesterman’s patent self-acting window blind and map rollers, tape measures, etc. Division St”, and “Chesterman Jas. patentee and mfr. of the newly invented spring tape measures, spring map and window blind rollers, and spring hinges and door closers; at I.P. Cutts’, Division st.” The formal partnership of Cutts, Chesterman and Co. was in existence by 1855, when they exhibited “measuring tapes”, at that year’s Paris Exposition. Another partner, James Bedington (ca. 1811-1890), later joined to form Cutts, Chesterman, and Bedington. That company dissolved in 1859, after Cutts’ death. Chesterman took over the former business, and remained in Sheffield for many decades: Bedington moved to Birmingham.

This account does not refer to another partnership mentioned in Gloria Clifton’s reference book, that of JP Cutts, Sutton and Son, which was active around 1851, in Sheffield and in Hatton Garden, London: they introduced the Trade Mark ‘TRY MF’. It would be good to know what this meant as at first I thought this read ‘Try me’ – indeed the Royal Museums at Greenwich have a unit showing the Trade Mark anchor and they suggest this reads ‘TRY ME’ underneath, but I’m not convinced, it looks like TRY MF to me: their reference is NAV1486 – any suggestions welcomed! I need to polish up the Cutts & Sutton 4-draw telescope, my Accession number #272, which bears this marking, to see what that says – as soon as I can find it that is!

Later comment (Oct 2017): Inspection of various other Cutts scopes, plus one branded “Newton, Halifax” today, shows the TM distinctly shows “TRY MF” as the wording under the Anchor symbol. So the Royal Museum has got that wrong! But it’s always possible the engraving tool or person had it wrong, and perpetuated the mistake – see the previous comments made below…….

Royal Museums at Greenwich have responded to my query, and they reckon the ‘F’ is a fault in the engraving process on the metalwork. In addition they have found an entry placed by the company in the 1870 publication The Handbook to the Manufacturers and Exporters of Great Britain’ that showed the trade mark printed, where it definitely says “TRY ME”, in between two horizontal lines, under the anchor symbol used as part of the Trademark. This was in an article that provided a comprehensive review of the whole history of this company, including their microscopes.

This telescope


Closed up the telescope is 20” long: fully extended it is 36”. The OD is 2.5”, the clear visible diameter of the objective is 1.5”. The wooden main barrel appears to be of oak, and is in good condition. The overall condition is excellent: the brass is beautiful, and the eyepiece is complete with a protective slide over the lens, which sticks out of the bell shaped eyepiece housing when the scope is in use. The only potentially missing item would be an objective lens cap/cover, although the (steel) screws at the objective end holding the lens assembly in place have been replaced with brass screws. At the other end of the barrel the brass collar is held on with what look like copper pins.


The single draw is split in the middle to allow access to the second cartridge containing the two lenses closest to the objective. The end of the single draw is used to create an orifice that is typically used restrict the light passing down the edges of the barrel from the objective lens. The eyepiece cartridge has the other two lenses. All the screw threads unscrew and run easily.

The engraving on the first draw reads:

JP Cutts & Sonsdscn5089

Opticians to Her Majesty


….where the word ‘Her’ is in a slightly smaller font size.

The telescope weight is significant – it probably needs to be supported on the rigging, as it weighs approximately 1.1kg (2.4 lbs or 39 ounces). Presumably on sailing ships the lookouts who climbed the masts did not have to carry telescopes as big as these!

How well does it work?

The telescope focuses easily, and can even be used with spectacles in place! Easily means there is plenty of movement of the draw in and out to move through the point of best focus. The magnification is around 10x, not a high magnification compared to some, but a good wide field of view, for a telescope, makes up for that.

Background data

The scope was bought from A.Miller, a stallholder at the London Scientific Instruments Fair, in October 1999. He seemed to specialise in renovating telescopes that potentially could display beautifully polished wooden barrels, but this one was awaiting treatment, ie not yet renovated. It is Accession number #56.

Robert Maxwell’s Naval Telescope


Continuing the theme of telescopes that could have had celebrity owners, or even notorious owners, this is a whopper. It is certainly a naval telescope, bought for use on board ship. The owner’s name, engraved on the first draw, is confirmed to be Robert Maxwell. In fact the engraving says that it was “Made for Robert Maxwell”, and the maker was “W J Cannon (of) 177 Shadwell, London”.



Since Gloria Clifton’s Directory of British Scientific Instrument Makers has date limits of 1550 to 1851, there is no mention of W J Cannon, he was only active after 1851. In fact, the engraving also tells us that this telescope was made in 1863. So while dated beautifully, the Robert Maxwell who used it was long before the Maxwell of Pergamon Press fame. He eventually was disgraced by mis-appropriating the funds from the Mirror Newspaper Group Pension Fund, fell off the back of his yacht apparently (maybe while using a telescope?) and was eventually found drowned, floating in the sea. That was in 1991, He wasn’t really called Robert Maxwell, he adopted that name after arriving in Britain from Czechoslovakia, fleeing from Hitler.

The Telescope itself


dscn5032It is very large: indeed it seems to be a little on the ostentatious side. The eyepiece has the Victorian bell shape, and is gilded on top of the brass, as is the sunshade and the objective lens cap, on the far end of the scope. Then surprisingly the cartridge housing, located in the central split of the single draw, is also gilded, as is the one at the eyepiece. The eyepiece has had a knock, and the slider that protected the lens is now missing.


Closed up, the telescope is 21”, and has an OD of 2.5”. When fully extended the length is 38”. The brass barrel is covered with a sheet of leather, that was once stitched along the seam, but has shrunk significantly, so the seam has split over half the body length, and has left a 0.25” gap over the length of the 15” barrel. This is a shrinkage of only 1.6%, so although it is very noticeable, the shrinkage is very small!

Bought on Ebay in September 2012, accession number 166.


Andy Macnab’s Ross telescope

I was quite surprised to find Andy Macnab’s telescope in an antiques saleroom: this was way back in 1995, in Beacon Marine Antiques, in Swanwick, near Hamble, UK. In fact the saleroom was in a barge, called the ”Bernadette de Lourdes”, moored on the Hamble River near Moody’s boatyard.


The telescope was made by Ross, and is engraved “Ross, London” and gives the serial Number 58140. I don’t know whether there is any reference book to find more data about these Ross serial numbers, maybe someone can tell me? Ross became part of Avimo in Taunton in 1975. It looks and feels like a 1930s built telescope. The feel is also just right, it’s relatively small, solid, easy to focus, light and easy to carry.




It is a two draw brass telescope, 24” long when extended, 10.5” closed, nearly 1.75” diameter. The barrel has a stitched leather covering, with a sunshade, and the objective lens cap has two holes to allow it to be retained with a leather thong or cord. The eyepiece has a sliding shutter to cover the lens. Inside, the lens cartridges are well engineered, and conventional. Bothe sliders are lined with felt, to give a very tight joint: the air inside is able to escape through an air exhaust hole under the sunshade.


The telescope came with its own leather case, which carries the initials AJM for AJ Macnab.

A J Macnab, the owner



Well, I wonder who AJ Macnab was? At least we know he was the owner, probably the first owner, as the telescope is engraved “A.J.Macnab, From A & J”. Presumably A & J were his parents, and it is reasonable to postulate that this was a gift maybe when AJM left home to join either his first ship or his first Regiment.

I have not found him as yet. It is not really likely that this was Andy McNab, the well-known author of “Bravo Two Zero”, and other stories about a Sargeant in the SAS in the Gulf War, as first this was just a pen-name, second, if he had this telescope when he joined the Army in 1930, he would have been about 80 years old in the Gulf War, and thirdly, he spelled his name in a different way! Plus if he was in the SAS, he surely would not have used a bright polished brass telescope when trying to hide in the desert sand!


Current use

This telescope has been one of the first choice units for me to take away on holiday, or on any leisure trip, for the past twenty years – usually accompanied by the Carpenter multi-draw, which fits better into an anorak pocket. It has also been to lots of air displays and events. It was acquired in 1995, and is Accession number 26.


Not a telescope I am going to part with!

Another large Berge, from 1800

I seem to have an affinity for Berge and his telescopes, probably because they are ‘almost as good as’ Ramsden scopes, but much cheaper! Nevertheless this one was really really cheap, because it has no objective lens, nor the metalwork that wraps round the objective pair. After cleaning it up, and re-polishing the wood, it makes a good display item, and even has the original brass objective lens cap, to make it look complete!


Four draws, creating a 35″ long telescope

Engraved as “Berge London”, and “Late Ramsden” on the next line, the initial letters of these two lines are next to the eyepiece, ie on the opposite side to the standard format that was mostly used after about 1790. But Matthew Berge was just a bit of a traditionalist, and stuck to the old format, because he took over from Ramsden in 1800. He worked at 199 Piccadilly, maybe until 1817 – he died in 1819: but we don’t know for how long he leveraged off the Ramsden name and quoted “Late Ramsden” on his scopes. Then the business was taken over by a further two ex-Ramsden employees who had also worked for Berge, called Worthington & Allan: Nathaniel Worthington continued this business until 1851.


So the scope is around 200 years old at least, is an impressive size, and a modern design for the era in which it was built: leading the field in design, as Ramsden also did!



This is a four draw mahogany barrelled brass telescope, measuring 10” when closed up, and 35” when opened out. The outer diameter at the objective, 2.25”, makes it a fairly hefty instrument. The objective lens thread is around 2” OD, and when fitted with the objective lens from telescope #271, a similarly sized unit from Spencer & Co (see the story posted 30 Dec 2016), the combination works and focuses very well. So I just need a 2” OD objective with a focal length of around 27” to bring it back into operation!


What is the future for this?

Accession number 292: it will probably end up on the wall at the Goonhilly Visitor Centre in Cornwall, where the original trans-Atlantic radio telescopes are being brought back into operation for space research. That is, unless someone wants a lovely 200 year old talking point for about £100, which is what I think it’s worth. Unless I find a good spare lens assembly!


The barrel has little damage, and polishes well: the brass draws have some stiffness from bangs!

Accession number 292: acquired in October 2016, from an Ebay supplier, based in Ashford, Kent.

A 3-Draw JP Cutts Telescope


This is a fairly conventional three draw, mahogany barrel telescope, of a good size from a well-known maker. John Preston Cutts was known to have been working between 1822 and 1841, but he claimed that the business had been established in 1804. He received a Royal Appointment to supply to Queen Victoria, so telescopes engraved to that effect (such as #282, described earlier) must have been built after 1837 therefore.

The business started in Sheffield, Near St Paul’s Church at 58 Norfolk Street, and then after 1828 he was at Division Street, Sheffield. In Sheffield he worked alongside James Chesterman, a mathematical instrument maker, who made linear measures (rulers). This telescope is clearly engraved as “JP Cutts, London” in a real Victorian scroll: his premises in London were at 3 Crown Court, Fleet Street, from 1836 onwards.


Later, the business traded as JP Cutts, Sons & Sutton, from both Sheffield and Hatton Garden in London: trading under this name was recorded in 1851. Not many of the actual dates relating to this business seem to be known exactly!


dscn4911-smThe OD of the main barrel is almost 1.9”, with the visible lens OD of the objective 1.6”. This assembly has been subjected to a ‘major trauma’, ie a big bang on the side, which has distorted the mounting ring and cracked the side of one of the lenses. This crack does not have any visible effect on the view through the scope.

On receipt, the brass fitting on the other end of the mahogany barrel lacked any retaining screws: these have been replaced with small modern brass round-headed screws, which still had to be cut in half to reduce the penetration. The barrel has one longitudinal crack, but is still stable.

The three draws all extend smoothly, and are remarkably clear of dents and dings. Total length extended is 28.5”: closed it is 9.5” long. The eyepiece is a flat ended, square design, typical of the very early and the late C19th: in the middle to early years of the century the bulbous or bell shaped design was fashionable.


What was it used for?

The telescope is the right size for use from on board ship, or for use by an Army Scout or Officer in the C19th. It is maybe a little too bulky and large for use by a country Gentleman for spotting deer or hare or foxes on the moors, he would probably prefer more of a pocket scope. In fact we have no information about any owners, this is just speculation.


A nice telescope that works well, probably made in the mid 1830s, say 1836 or 37, and sold thru the JP Cutts new offices in London. The telescope was bought on Ebay from a supplier in Littlehampton, in January 2012. It is my Accession Number #158.

A Telescope made by Tom Jones


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.

dscn4887Between 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.

dscn4895       dscn4889

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.