This antique three-draw telescope dates to the 19th century. Solidly crafted with brass draws and a brass barrel wrapped in leather, this antique telescope is a beautiful example of French optics. The optics are clear and the telescope still functions, a testament to its design and construction. The brass cap to the telescope is engraved “Made in France.”
Through the mid-1700s, early telescopes were made of paper rolled into tubes with leather or vellum coverings. While the coverings provided some water resistance, this construction was not durable enough for extended use at sea or in other situations with damp or wet conditions. Luckily, the advancements in materials for telescopes followed the Industrial Revolution in Europe. During this period, the transition was made from fragile instruments susceptible to damage, to durable long-lasting telescopes that performed and survived even in adverse conditions.
In particular, the advent of precision brass tubing radically changed the construction of telescopes, as well as other scientific instruments. Although an ancient material, brass, an alloy of copper and zinc, is much more difficult to produce than bronze. High quality brass was not readily available until the 1700s. Brass tubes were first seen in microscopes in the 1740s and were commonly used in telescopes from around 1750 on.
In 1780, Dollond introduced telescopes which had multiple brass draws, usually three or four. The draws in this design were made to very close tolerances. The multiple draws allowed excellent portability, as a 14” long telescope could be collapsed to a 5” in length and an even larger 40” long telescope could collapse to 10” in length.
At about the time brass was first used for draws, wood became the primary material for the main barrel of handheld telescopes. The main barrel of a telescope must be structurally rigid and durable. Mahogany and fruitwood were the primary woods used. In addition, handling a wooden barrel was much more comfortable than brass for the user, especially in cold weather. Later, when brass was used for the main barrel of handheld telescopes, it was almost always covered with a wrap of leather or other material, for easier handling and protection from salt spray. This telescope’s brass barrel is wrapped in a warm pebbled brown leather.
With its elegant blend of function and form, this is a stunning piece of history and will be a perfect addition to any optics or scientific collection.
Good condition. Three-draw brass telescope. Brass barrel, wrapped in leather. Minor dents and scratches due to age, does not affect the functionality of the telescope. Clear optics, good focus. Lenses are not cloudy. Stamped “Made in France” on the original brass lens cap. Dimensions: 17 1/4" extended length, 6 3/4" closed length, 1 1/2" widest diameter.