Presented is an original pair of Civil War-era field glasses. The glasses, an intricate example of brass and glass technology, were made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by the company Queen & Co. The glasses are stamped “Queen & Co., Phila” along the eyepiece. They are housed in the original leather hard case. The glasses were most likely made in the early 1860s.
Binoculars were first invented in France in the 1840s. They started small, primarily as opera glasses, but by the Civil War, they were being used in battle. Larger versions, like the pair seen here, became known as field glasses. Unlike Civil War uniforms or canteens, most field glasses were purchased privately by officers on both sides. Very few were issued by the Government and those carried either "U.S." or "C.S.A." imprints.
A Civil War officer or soldier would have used binoculars like these to sight locations and keep track of troop movements during battle. When not in use, they would have carried the glasses in the hard leather case, as seen here.
James W. Queen & Company was an optical and scientific instrument company located at 924 Chestnut Street, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The company was active, in various forms, from 1853 to 1925. In 1853, James W. Queen began his small business in optical and philosophical apparatus, in the city of Philadelphia. In 1859, Samuel L. Fox joined the business and the business steadily developed under their tutelage. James Queen retired in 1870, yet Mr. Fox continued the business under the title of James W. Queen & Co, sometimes shortened to Queen & Co.
By 1888, the company had six departments: physical and chemical, engineering, ophthalmic, microscopical, magic lantern, photographic. Among the instruments and apparatus made were air pumps, astronomical instruments, induction coils, Holtz machines, gyroscopes, drawing and mathematical instruments, surveying instruments, and instruments for electrical measurements. In 1893, the company was incorporated, and the name changed to Queen & Co., Inc. In 1912 the company was reorganized as the Queen-Gray Co., Inc. by John G. Gray and continued as such until Gray's death in 1925, after which it became the Gray Instrument Company.
The optics remain generally clear and the focusing mechanism still operates properly. The brass body displays some shallow dents and scratches commensurate with past use. Black eyepiece dented on one side. Green patina to the brass. Otherwise they are in very good condition.
With the original hard body, leather wrapped case. Case missing lid. Scratches to leather, but stitching remains stable and intact.
Dimensions: Glasses: 8 1/2" H x 4 1/2" W x 1 3/4" D. Glasses (extended): 11 1/4" H x 4 1/2" W x 1 3/4" D. Case: 8" H x 5 1/4" W x 2 1/4" D.