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Antique Japanese Telescope with Provenance Click on any image for a larger view.

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JAPANESE LACQUERED TELESCOPE, c. mid-19th century, the rolled card and wood tubes heavily lacquered in black and rust, with gilt stamped decoration. It opens from 14" to 38" (36 to 97 cm) on three drawtubes, the tubes slightly tapered for rigidity when fully open. The eye surround is turned horn, and the optics consist of a two-element eyepiece system plus a singlet objective mounted between card disks and set behind a brass aperture which stops down the 2" wide main tube to a tiny 7/16". The outfit is complete with lacquered end caps and its softwood (probably camphor wood) box with lid, all in very fine condition noting some internal lacquer loss on the smallest drawtube.

There are inscriptions throughout, all in Japanese kanji. The number "16" appears on the eyetube, the objective cell, and both endcaps, and is probably the batch serial number (to match up the correct hand-made parts during construction of several instruments at once). The case ends and lid are marked "telescope," and the owner's name appears twice "owned by Mr. Kyubei Yoshijima." Within the box is a large marked sheet of rice paper, probably 19th century but possibly unrelated to the telescope.

A splendid example of a beautiful early Japanese telescope. (9018) $5800.

 

Pyefinch's Innovation vs. Dollond's Patent Click on any image for a larger view.

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IMPORTANT DESIGN IN A LARGE ACHROMATIC TELESCOPE, English, c. 1770, signed on the objective cell "Pyefinch, London, No. 194." The telescope has a tapered mahogany barrel with substantial brass fittings, constructed in four screw-together sections and one brass drawtube. Overall length varies from 6'3" to 7'4" (1.90 - 2.24 m). The slightly grey-green objective is 2" in diameter, with two elements in notched mounts to assure they are kept in the optimum rotary alignment. The elements have adjustable separation; at position marked "7" they are in near contact, at "6" they have a 3/8" air gap between them. The drawtube contains a four-element eyepiece system with dust slide, and is scored "7" and "6" for two different focal positions 3-7/16" apart, "7" being the longer focal length. The combination gives good erect images of high magnification. Condition is generally fine, the wood with some wear and hairline cracks, the brass with minor dents.

The maker was Henry Pyefinch, apprenticed to Francis Watkins in 1753, made free in the Spectaclemakers Company in 1763, working until his death in 1790. He was a fine craftsman and innovator, noting the lovely telescope in Tesseract Catalogue 79 (Item 3), as well as his co-patenting of a novel instrument, the "Aerostathmion."

The present instrument is an extremely rare example of an achromatic telescope with variable separation of the objective elements. Various 18th century makers had utilized crown / flint glass combinations to minimize chromatic aberrations in the image, but it was John Dollond who, in 1758, and with the assistance and financial support of his co-partner in this effort, the maker Francis Watkins, obtained letters patent for the achromatic lens. John died three years later, his son Peter becoming proprietor of the business. It is impossible to well summarize here the fascinating history of court challenges to the patent, but a recent book gives the remarkable story in depth (B. Gee, Francis Watkins and the Dollond Telescope Patent Controversy, 2014). Despite rulings upholding Dollond's monopoly, achromatic telescopes were being produced by various London makers.

By 1764, Pyefinch left Watkins' employ, and actually formed a trading agreement with Dollond. But within four years the two were exchanging actions and counter-actions. The innovative Pyefinch found an escape from Dollond's monopoly, and in 1770 received his own patent for "refracting telescopes with object glasses therein, composed of two or more different glasses or mediums separate and distinct from each other, and so placed in the tube as that, by altering the distance of the one from the other, the glasses will have greater or lesser magnifying powers without destroying the effect arising from the different refractive qualitys of the several mediums...."

Only one other example is known of Pyefinch's freedom from the grip of the Dollond patent (see http://dioptrice.com/telescopes/258). (10023) $24,000.

 

Modeling the Earth's Magnetic Field Click on any image for a larger view.

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AN ELECTROMAGNETIC TERRELLA, probably Italian, c. 1830, numbered "110" but lacking two name plaques. This fine physics demonstration apparatus presents a model of the earth, with its magnetic field generated by electric currents. The earth itself is a 12" (30 cm) diameter hollow painted steel sphere wrapped with insulated wire coiled around a broad equatorial band. The poles are marked "N" and "S," and the coiled wire terminates with slipping conductors at each end of the horizontal axis. From there wires lead to fixed terminals for connection to a source of electricity. Thus the sphere can be turned freely by hand yet maintain electrical contact. The whole is mounted within a fine beautifully grained mahogany stand with 20-3/4" x 11-1/4" (53 x 29 cm) oval base, and 15-3/4" (40 cm) tall turned mahogany columns carrying large boxwood clamp screws as well as supports for small magnetic needles used to demonstrate the earth's field direction and polarity. Condition is generally fine, with noticeable losses to the paint on the sphere, one small dent, and some losses to the fixed wiring on the columns.

This is a very rare example of electromagnetic terrella, as invented independently by Peter Barlow and Leopoldo Nobili, in the 1820's. In use, the electric current passing through the equatorial coils generates a magnetic field simulating that of the earth. By rotating the earth to different (latitudinal) positions, the local field direction is best shown by an auxiliary little dip needle placed on top, and by the compass needles on the sides. We are aware of very few other electromagnetic terrellas which have survived, notably three smaller simpler ones, all Italian: an unsigned one in the Museo Galileo, one signed Marcellino of Alessandria, and one signed C. Dell'Acqua of Milan in the University of Pavia (illustrated in G. Turner, 1983). A more complex French one is in a private collection. Finally, there exists an identical twin of the present instrument in the exceptional Cabinet of Physics of the University of Coimbra in Portugal. (9026) $7500. (SOLD)

 

Triplet Lenses Throughout Click on any image for a larger view.

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REMARKABLE COMPACT ALL-TRIPLE-LENS BINOCULARS, French, c. 1875, engraved "Douze Verres" (for "Twelve Lenses") and signed in the case "Gregoire Opticien, Quai St. Antoine, 14." Measuring 3-7/8" (10 cm) overall and 1-1/8" (3 cm) thick (closed), they are constructed of gilt brass and tortoiseshell, with a central knurled ivory focusing knob. Each objective lens, and each eyepiece, is itself a triplet, a sophisticated design to minimize aberrations and permit a compact, short-focal-length instrument. The apparent maker was Gregoire of Lyon, working throughout the third quarter 19th century. The firm had been founded in 1790, owned by Pierre Biette in the 1830's, and by H. Peter in the late 19th century. A fine device, in superb condition, with the original carrying case. (9030) $1350.

 

Pocket Elegance, as per Thomas Ribright Click on any image for a larger view.

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EXQUISITE SILVER TELESCOPE COMPENDIUM, English, c. third quarter 18th century, in the manner of Thomas Ribright. Of cylindrical shape 4-1/8" (10.5 cm) long overall (closed), the body is finely chased with floral and arcuate patterns in contrasting polished and semi-matte finish. The ends are set with lenses (stopped down to 5/16" diameter and equipped with dust slides) forming a Galilean monocular system giving magnification of several times. The eye assembly withdraws for focusing and access to the interior. Midway along the tube, where the bundle of light rays is smallest (stopped down to a mere 1/8"!), there is an internal fitting with six slots for various domestic tools, much in silver. Included are an ivory note pad, pencil holder, scissors, pocket knife, file and tweezers. Condition is fine, with slight wear primarily to the body of the knife.

This system of compendium concealed within a telescope was patented (and produced) by Thomas Ribright in 1749, as "Making small perspective-glasses with mathematical and other instruments and twees in the same case...." Ribright's elaborate trade card shows the same wonderful rococo designs found here (see Calvert, 1971). (9059) $4500.

 

Crafted by Semitecolo of Venice, Italy Click on any image for a larger view.

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GOOD VENETIAN TELESCOPE, Italian, c. 1800, signed "Leonardo Semitecolo." Opening from 12" to 33-1/2" (30 - 85 cm) by three draw tubes, the telescope is constructed of heavy card tubes bound in fine multi-colored paper, with turned fittings of multi-toned horn. The main tube is stamped with charming floral patterns. The singlet objective and three-element Schyrle eyepiece system give good erect images. Condition is fine with light wear, lacking dust covers.

Lens making got an early start in Venice, and by the late 18th century the city hosted numbers of telescope and microscope makers. It seems that every visitor on a Grand Tour of Europe must have returned home with a handheld spyglass. Here we have a fine attractive example, complete with all original optics, and by the best known maker of the day. (9058) $1950.

 

"Designed by a lady" -- Stars of the British Empire! Click on any image for a larger view.

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COMPLETE SET OF "URANIA¹S MIRROR" ASTRONOMICAL CARDS AND BOOK, English, 1825, published by Samuel Leigh of 18 Strand, London. This is a complete set of 32 hand-colored cards, each 5-1/2" x 7-3/4" (14 x 20 cm), printed with constellation figures, the brighter stars identified and pierced with holes and the cards backed with tissue paper, making visible the star patterns when held to a light. The cards are delicately colored, and contained in the original cardboard box. Some of the more unusual technology-related constellations are included, e.g., Machina Electrica, Officina Chemica, and Antlia Pneumatica. This rare early set of astronomical cards is complete, with bright colors, in fine condition noting light soiling and one card never colored. Some of the backing tissues bear old manuscript poems. The box, with its original title plate, is in fair condition.

This outfit is complete with Jehoshaphat Aspin's 200-page Familiar Treatise on Astronomy to accompany Urania¹s Mirror. This book, published by Leigh in 1825, includes four fold-out plates, and is in good condition, noting a bit of foxing and corner staining. It has a very fine later half-leather binding. Aspin refers to Urania¹s Mirror as "consisting of thirty-two cards, on which are represented all the constellations visible in the British empire, on a plan perfectly original, designed by a Lady."

A good example of a most attractive but now hard-to-find astronomical set. (9078) $5500.

 

Miniature Telescope with Galilean Optical Design Click on any image for a larger view.

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POCKET OPEN-AIR MONOCULAR IN SILVER, French, c. 1825, with several poinçon hallmarks. Mounted with pendant ring, the device folds to a very compact 1-5/8" x 1-1/4" x 1/2" (4 x 3 x 1.3 cm), and opens with hinged lenses on sliding support arm. It is a traditional "Galilean" optical design giving upright images of low magnification. In fine condition, it is an unusual form of miniature telescope. The French poinçon mark of the "tête de lièvre" (the head of a hare), which is applied twice here, firmly dates it to 1819 - 1838. (9079) $1450.

 

Elegance in Sheffield Silver and Red Enamel Click on any image for a larger view.

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A LUXURIOUS SPYGLASS, English, c. late 18th century, signed "Gilbert, London." Opening from 6-5/8" to 19" (17 to 48 cm) on three drawtubes, the telescope is fashioned from Sheffield silver, with a matte red enameled main tube. The two lenses of the achromatic objective are notched and keyed in to maintain their best rotational alignment as determined by the maker, and the erecting eyepiece system has four elements, giving fine images. The telescope is in excellent condition, complete with its original red Morocco leather bound wood case in fair condition.

The Gilberts were a virtual dynasty of mathematical and optical instrument makers, active individually and in various partnerships from the early 18th century to the mid-19th (see Clifton). The present spyglass is a very fine example of a type popular in the last decade of the 18th century, constructed especially by the Gilberts (and see Tesseract Catalogue 85 Item 2 for more details). (9068) $1350.

 

Art and Science, by Biasio Burlini Click on any image for a larger view.

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FINE VENETIAN TELESCOPE, Italian, c. second quarter 18th century, engraved on the objective lens "Biasio Burlini, Venezia." The telescope opens from 11-1/8" to 36" (28 - 91 cm) with four card drawtubes bound in green vellum. The main tube is bound in vellum painted with wonderful swirling colorful floral designs, and protected with a typical high-gloss clear lacquer finish. Lens mounts, tube rings, and end caps are all finely turned of horn. With internal erecting system, the telescope gives very fine erect images of quality. Condition is very fine throughout, noting only some losses to the clear lacquer.

Professor Biasio Burlini (1709 - 1771) was active in Venice in the mid-18th century. His workshop, with the "Archimedes" trade sign, was described in period literature, and several of his telescopes exist in museums. Lualdi has recently studied Burlini¹s records in the Italian archives, and inventoried surviving microscopes and telescopes.

A significant instrument with its signed objective lens, we note a similar one in the Louwman collection (published as his item 67). (10011) $5800.

 

Ingenious Binoculars with Folding Rack-Works Click on any image for a larger view.

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EXCEPTIONAL COILED-TUBE BINOCULARS, French, c. 1880. These ingenious binoculars are constructed with two gilt-brass main plates supporting not only the 2" (5 cm) diameter objective lens cells, but also the complex assembly of axle with twin pinion gears engaging the long folding rack-works which drive a thick plate carrying the eyelenses, meanwhile extending the helical coils to form opaque tubes to exclude off-axis light. Materials include gilt brass, steel, horn, and tortoiseshell. Condition is very fine noting a little nibbling to the organics and a little chipping to the enamel. This attractive and ingenious device extends from a compact 1-1/2" thick to 5" fully open (4 to 13 cm), and is complete with its original somewhat worn shaped case bound in blackened leather and lined in pink silk. (10012) $1950.

 

With a Most Elegant Combination of Materials Click on any image for a larger view.

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EXQUISITE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY MONOCULAR, English, c. third quarter 18th century, signed "Dollond, London." Opening from 2-3/4" to 3-3/4" (7 to 9.5 cm) by single drawtube, the monocular is constructed of beautifully contrasting dark stained ivory, green rayskin, silver bands, wood interior, and red leather stamped in silver with the most delicate, flowing flowering vines. It is a Galilean optical design, giving upright images, the 1-5/8" diameter singlet objective having large light gathering power. Condition is excellent. It is a most elegant instrument, from the period when a combination of the finest materials was most fashionable, by a foremost optician of the day. (10041) $1950.

 

A Simple Honest Astrolabe from Northern India Click on any image for a larger view.

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PRIMITIVE BRASS HINDU ASTROLABE, Indian, probably 19th century. Measuring 5" (13 cm) in diameter, the astrolabe is made of sheet brass, hand cut and engraved in Sanskrit. The rete has 20 named star pointers, all of the early dagger form. The ecliptic circle is divided into 12 named houses, and the equatorial circle and tropic of Capricorn are present. The combined plate / mater, designed for a single latitude, bears a Sanskrit inscription on the throne, and is divided, rather crudely, every degree, with 15 divisions of six degrees each, in each quadrant. The throne has a scalloped crown shape, as known on some astrolabes made in Jodhpur in the third quarter 19th century. The inscription is difficult to decipher, but seems to translate as "Salutation to the glorious Omniscient One" (Sarma, personal communication.) The reverse is scratch divided with a sine/cosine grid, and a labeled shadow square. The alidade is lacking; the suspension ring is present. The workmanship is quite crude but the design is honest and the condition is fine, noting the brass now quite darkened.

The maker of this astrolabe was certainly not an accomplished craftsman; his "engraved" letters and numerals were basically all punched out with a single narrow tool, almost as punches with a screwdriver blade. Yet the design appears astronomically correct. It was traditional for an astronomer to design the astrolabe, and for a metalworker to execute it. This is often acknowledged in the inscription (see for example Tesseract Catalogue 91 item 2). We can speculate that in this case the astronomer, with little craft training, executed the instrument himself. (10021) $3800.

 

Fine Early Example of Reflecting Telescope Click on any image for a larger view.

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DIMINUTIVE EARLY CASE-MOUNTED GREGORIAN TELESCOPE, probably English, c. second quarter 18th century. The 8-5/8" x 3-1/2" x 2-3/4" (22 x 9 x 7 cm) mahogany or rosewood case has oak bottom and beveled slide-off lid, plus inset brass mounting plate and beautiful brass escutcheon. The brass telescope assembly mounts to the lid, by tapered steel screw and turned brass pillar to altazimuth mount. The main tube is 7-1/4" long and 1-5/8" in diameter, fitted with spring-loaded speculum metal primary mirror, speculum secondary mirror on adjustable mount driven by external focusing rod, erecting eyepiece assembly with two lens elements and two apertures, screw-on red solar filter, and turned end cap. The system gives remarkably fine images, even in daylight when the Gregorian design suffers from off-axis light. Condition is fine noting some darkening to the brass, a couple of replaced mounting screws, and old repair to the lock.

Various details point to an early date -- the use of oak as a secondary wood, the escutcheon form, telescope design details, the diminutive size, the case-top mounting, etc. We have seen an even smaller case-mounted Gregorian by Edward Scarlett, and note James Short's frequent use of this design. (7044) $4500.

 

Unusual Paper-on-Wood Quadrant, c. 17th century Click on any image for a larger view.

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MANUSCRIPT HORARY QUADRANT, probably German, c. 17th century. This thick (3/4"; 1.9 cm) wood quadrant is 8-3/8" (21 cm) in radius, mounted on one side with a paper sheet laid out in ink with partial hand coloring. The other side has an incomplete attempt to draw the same inked design directly on the wood. A plugged hole at the apex would anchor a string with plumb bob. Two edge holes might permit auxiliary sights, although one can of course sight directly along the broad edge.

The layout presents a degree quadrant, the scale running counter-clockwise from 0° to 90°, highlighted every degree with alternating dark and light squares, numbered every five degrees, and with a broad band of transversal lines giving interpolation points every ten arcminutes. Within this is a large band of curved hour lines running from 4 am to 12 noon and back again to 8 pm, the number sequences labeled in Latin respectively "ante" and "post-Meridie." Along the right edge is a Zodiacal / calendrical scale divided every five days. Condition is good noting water damage especially around the apex and along one edge.

This is a form of the early horary quadrant, known from Medieval times (see, e.g., Cowham, 2014, p. 12; Tesseract Catalogue 78, Item 14). It is laid out for a latitude of approximately 46°. To find the time with this altitude dial, one simply positions a bead along a plumb line such that the bead sits at the correct date / Zodiacal position on the scale, then aligns the quadrant edge with the sun, meanwhile letting the plumb line hang freely and noting the correct time under the bead.

We suggest a central European, probably German, origin of the quadrant based on the numeral shapes ("1" as"j," "2" as "z"), the spelling "Mai," and the latitude consistent with regions just south of southern Germany

Similar manuscript instruments are quite uncommon, although some fine ones have survived, noting the 15th century planetary instruments in Frankfurt am Main (see Glaseman), and the lunar computer in Tesseract Catalogue 98 (item 4). (10051) $4800.

 

Fine Astrolabe signed for Astronomer and Maker Click on any image for a larger view.

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ELEGANT BRASS ASTROLABE, signed for the astronomer who designed it and for the craftsman who made it, Indian, c. mid-19th century. The main plate measures 10-3/4" (27.4 cm) in overall diameter, hand-engraved on the front with the coordinate system for a user at latitude approximately 28 degrees north. The astrolabe was likely crafted in Rajasthan, possibly in the important city of Bikaner at latitude 28.01 degrees. Around the projection is a circumferential scale divided every degree and labeled every six degrees. The integral "throne" is nicely pierced and engraved in foliate patterns, and mounted with suspension swivel; the rounded edges in the throne give it an almost three-dimensional shape. The openwork rete, which presents a map of the heavens, rotates on the main plate, and is designed with 27 different mostly dagger-shaped star pointers, all labeled with the appropriate star names. The pointer for Alpha Coronae Borealis (Alphecca) however, is formed as a large peacock perched on the rete¹s central disk, and finely modeled with raised neck and with feather decoration.

The reverse is engraved with a sine/cosine grid, and with a double shadow square labeled on the left "shadows of a gnomon of 12 digits," and on the right "shadows of a gnomon of 7 digits." Below this the inscription reads "Latitude 28.16 [degrees]" and "Midday equinoctial shadow 6.30 [digits]." And finally comes: "This plate was made by Sutradhara Suryamalla according to the instructions of Kasturicandra." Sutradhara means architect, here used in the sense of craftsman or artisan; the maker's last name means literally "sun-wrestler." Two other astrolabes by Suryamalla are known, also made under the instruction of the astronomer named Kasturicandra, and bearing the same distinctive peacock motif. (Sarma, personal communication).

The back of the astrolabe is mounted with the sighting tube/alidade, which has a nicely shaped center and a beveled edge divided both sides of the center (with equally spaced divisions, approximately 54 on one side of the shaped center, 58 on the other, and thus approximately two millimeters per division). All is held together by a central pin secured by a charming little stylized-horse-shaped "horse." Condition is very fine throughout, the brass with a uniform brown patina. A fine example of an authentic functioning astrolabe, signed for both the maker and designer. (10042) $22,500.

 

Beautiful Construction by an Uncommon Maker Click on any image for a larger view.

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HANDSOME ENGLISH MONOCULAR BY AN UNCOMMON MAKER, third quarter 18th century, signed (stamped) on the drawtube "S. Iohnson, London." Measuring only 2-3/8" (6 cm) long closed, this little telescope is constructed in a wonderful combination of materials typical of 18th century fashion, with wood main tube bound in red-stained ray skin, card drawtube bound in green-stained vellum with stamped decoration, dark-stained ivory mounts, and internal diaphragm of wood. Condition is very fine, noting some (rather attractive) wear to the stain on the edges of the ivory mounts.

The maker would have been Samuel Johnson, apprenticed to the famous optical instrument maker James Mann in 1738, made free in the Spectacle Makers guild in 1745, and working under the wonderful trade sign of "Sir Isaac Newton & Two Pair of Golden Spectacles" (see Clifton). (9036) $1950.

 

Handheld Reflecting Telescope, in Fishskin Case Click on any image for a larger view.

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MINIATURE GREGORIAN TELESCOPE, English, c. third quarter 18th century. Measuring 7-1/4" (18 cm) overall, complete with turned brass end cap, the instrument has bright speculum metal mirrors, two-element erecting eyepiece system, and external screw focussing to the secondary mirror. Craftsmanship is excellent, and it gives superb images even in daytime. The telescope is contained in its wonderful original shaped case of wood lined with green velvet and covered in black fishskin. Condition is very fine throughout, noting a bit of rubbing to the original lacquer finish on the brass, and loss of one small semicircular end to the case. The miniature Gregorian telescope is known in very few examples; we have had one by Stedman of London (Tesseract Catalogue 52 Item 7), and one unsigned (Catalogue 40 Item 6). A splendid example. (8013) $4950.

 

Eighteenth Century "Calendarium Perpetuum" Click on any image for a larger view.

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GERMAN PERPETUAL CALENDAR, 18th century, made of gilt and silvered brass, 1-7/8" (4.7 cm) in diameter. On one side the rotatable "Calendarium Perpetuum" shows the days of the week (in German, and marked with their planetary signs) against days of the month, and has floral patterns hand-engraved in the open spaces. The other side gives, in seven readout windows defined by its rotatable disk, month of the year with its number of days, tabulation of the important saints' and feast days in the month, sun¹s Zodiacal position, length of day, length of night, time of sun rise, and time of sunset. There is further floral engraving, as well as inclusion of a seated person amongst the vines. The Zodiacal signs are identified by amusing little hand engravings. A good example in very fine condition. (7037) $2400.

 

Early English Quadrant Click on any image for a larger view.

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FASCINATING EARLY QUADRANT, English, mid-17th century. This very thin brass quadrant is 3-3/4" (9.5 cm) in radius, hand engraved on one side, with practice engraving of several numerals and letters on the reverse. There is a circumferential quadrant scale divided every degree, for use in measuring the angular altitude of sun, moon, stars, mountains, buildings, etc., by sighting along the edge and reading against a little plumb line which would be suspended from the apex. Next is a calendrical scale, laid out for a vernal equinox of approximately 11 March (consistent with the Julian calendar), and for a latitude of 52° (close to that of London). The sky grid of arcuate hour and azimuth lines is crossed by the ecliptic, and is consistent with Edmund Gunter¹s design of 1623. There is an edge scale of solar declination, and in the corner a fascinating shadow square, each leg divided every 5 from 0 to 50. Within the square is a scale hitherto unknown to us on surviving quadrants. The 90° angle is divided radially into ten equal segments labeled "J, F, M, A, M, D, N, O, S, A," and with "J, J" on the center line. And concentric arcs indeed carry variously the numbers 28, 30, and 31, which all align, rather primitively, with the letters, giving an aide-mémoire for the number of days in each month. The apex of the square has hand-engraved decoration of a very distinctive style found on some 17th and early 18th century English instruments: compare with that on a plane table rule (Tesseract Catalogue 76, Item 30) and that on a boxwood compendium attributed to Sutton (Wynter and Turner, p. 132). Condition is fair noting much old pitting to the brass, and only remnants of the little pinhole sights remaining. The instrument was reputedly purchased in Wales many decades ago, and probably suffered outdoor weathering a very long time before. Nevertheless it is a fascinating early quadrant. (7077) $4500.

 

Ringard's Oval Lenses Click on any image for a larger view.

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ELLIPTICAL LENS BINOCULARS, French, mid-19th century, signed in the eye mounts "Jumelle Elliptique, Brevetée S.G. D.G., Ringard Opticien, R. S't. Martin, 199, Paris," and with the maker¹s "RD" mark. Measuring 4-3/4" (12 cm) wide, and made of beautiful contrasting black enameled and gilt brass, with lens mounts and central focusing knob of hard rubber or wood, the binoculars have highly elliptical tubes fitted with singlet eye and objective lenses. Their unusual elliptical form provides the user with a field of view much wider horizontally than vertically, in a quite compact instrument. Condition is very fine noting some small chips to the mounts. The original leather case is rather rough, but has interesting fouled anchor motifs on the brass clasp.

M. Ringard, Parisian optician, crafted these rather remarkable binoculars. His techniques of cutting and centering the oval lenses is specially treated in an 1848 paper in the Bulletin de la Société d¹Encouragement pour l¹Industrie Nationale. (9043) $850.

 

Binoculars with a Handle Click on any image for a larger view.

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ELEGANT OPERA GLASSES, French, mid-19th century, signed twice ³Bianchi, rue du Coq St. Honoré No. 11 à Paris.² Measuring 4-1/2² (11 cm) wide overall, the binoculars are constructed of gilt-lacquered brass, with simulated tortoiseshell enameled main tubes, central geared focus with ivory thumbscrew, and swing away horn handle. In fine functional condition, they are complete with the shaped wood case covered in simulated red Morocco leather and lined with silk. (7036) $650.

 

For Your Walking Stick or Cane Click on any image for a larger view.

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THE "TOURISTEN-FERNSEHER," A CANE-MOUNTING OPEN-AIR TELESCOPE, German, c. 1900, comprising two quite portable lenses set in tin mounts, contained in the original 3-1/2" x 5" (9 x 13 cm) card box with instructions. Each lens holder is designed to clamp onto one¹s walking-stick, thus forming an impressive Galilean telescope with a 2" diameter objective and focal length of approximately 20". It functions well, and is in good condition, the box rough. (Featured in "Wondrous Devices" exhibition, Hudson River Museum, 2018) (9035) $495.

 

Lovely Patented Binoculars Click on any image for a larger view.

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ELEGANT IVORY-BOUND OPERA GLASSES, French, 19th century, signed around each eye lens "Par Brevet d'Invention et de Perfectionnement." Measuring 4" (10 cm) wide overall, these elegant low power binoculars are made of gilt brass with main tubes bound in splendid turned ivory rings. There is center-focus, and a swiveling ivory handle. Condition is fine noting that each ivory ring has a single age check, formed as the ivory shrank on the brass. (7047) $550.

 

High Precision Time Setting Click on any image for a larger view.

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HENRI ROBERT'S ASTRONOMICAL BALANCE, French, c. 1835, signed "henry ROBERT, horloger a Paris. invenit." The "balance" is constructed with a 20" (51 cm) long lacquered brass tube fitted to a flat brass suspension bar and two large brass chain links. When suspended, the whole can rotate about the zenith direction, and the tube can pivot in its vertical plane. The tube itself is fitted with a tiny lens and pinhole at one end, and a removable target at the other. The target is inscribed with a grid of lines identified by dot patterns, and is inclined to the optical axis, and visible through a cut in the side of the tube. Condition is fine and complete, retaining about half the original lacquer finish.

Henri Robert (1795 - 1874) was a clock-and-watch maker and prolific inventor. He worked with Breguet, establishing his own business in 1832, and became "Clockmaker to the Marine" as well as "Clockmaker to the Queen." This is his astronomical balance, by which one can determine the error in a watch or clock with high precision, simply by observing the sun (see Archives des Découvertes et des Inventions Nouvelles...pendant l¹année 1833). One suspends the balance in sunlight sometime before noon, aligns it with the sun, and, using the watch or clock in question, notes the exact times that the spot of sunlight crosses the lines on the target (as the sun ascends in elevation as it approaches the maximum at noon). One again notes the exact times that the same lines are crossed after noon. An average of the times should be 12:00:00 noon -- if not, one resets the watch by the difference. The maker / inventor offered the apparatus in two sizes, this one the larger and more accurate, giving time corrections to five seconds. This is a remarkable survival, complete even with the original suspension chain links. We are aware of only one other example of Robert's invention, that in the smaller version (Orologi e strumenti della Collezione Beltrame, 1996). (Featured in "Wondrous Devices" exhibition, Hudson River Museum, 2018) (9040) $5500.

 

Astronomical Quadrant with Rackwork Motions Click on any image for a larger view.

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JONES' IMPROVED ASTRONOMICAL QUADRANT, English, early 19th century, signed "W. & S. Jones, 30 Holborn, London." This handsome lacquered brass instrument stands 10" (25 cm) tall on its tabletop base with three leveling screws. The base has a circumferential degree scale, and is centered by a rotating disk which carries the instrument on central pillar, and which is fitted with crossed spirit levels, internal pinion and ring gears, and one-arcminute vernier. Atop the openwork pillar is mounted the 4-1/4" (11 cm) radius openwork quadrant with 0° - 90° scale, one-arcminute vernier, and pinion with external rack. Thus the instrument functions as a geared altazimuth theodolite. It is aligned not with sight vanes but with a right angle telescope with sliding focus to both the objective and eyepiece, fitted with solar filter. Condition is very fine, complete, and functional; the brass is spotted but retains most of its original clear lacquer finish. This is a very rare example of Jones' improved astronomical quadrant. In his Lectures of Natural and Experimental Philosophy George Adams (and subsequently William Jones) devotes six pages to the construction and use of the simple astronomical quadrant. But in a footnote, Jones describes this improved version: "By the addition of a small telescope, with a reflecting eye-piece, vernier scales to the arc and circle, rack-work and pinion to the arc AB, and circle EF, &c. I have rendered this small instrument useful for observing angles up to the zenith, and with more ease and accuracy for angles in general." The first example we have seen. (Featured in "Wondrous Devices" exhibition, Hudson River Museum, 2018) (9011) $9800. (ON HOLD)

 

Aluminum from the Columbian Exhibition Click on any image for a larger view.

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PERPETUAL CALENDAR MADE FOR THE COLUMBIAN EXHIBITION, American, 1892, signed "Perpetual Calendar, Patd. 1891 & 1892 by W.W. Kitchen." Made of aluminum, 1-3/16" (3 cm) in diameter, the disk bears on one side a raised profile of Christopher Columbus, and on the other a calendar marking every seventh day of each month. At the center is inset a brass volvelle with the days of the week. Setting this volvelle once per year allows direct readout of the day of the week for every date. This is a fine example of the perpetual calendar patented by William Whitney Kitchen, of Rockford, Illinois, on 1 December 1891. It was available at the 1893 World¹s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago to celebrate the quatercentenary of Columbus' 1492 voyage to the New World. (9052) $450.

 

Lunar / Solar Calendar Disk Click on any image for a larger view.

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PERPETUAL CALENDAR / LUNAR CALENDAR, English, 19th century, made of brass 1-1/2" (3.7 cm) in diameter. One side has a rotating disk marked "Day of the Month For Ever," with a smiling sunface and a ring of month dates. This reads against a fixed ring of weekdays. The other side has a volvelle marked "Moon's Age, Phases, and Southings," with circular scales of twice-12 hours, date of the lunar month, and weekdays. An eccentric circle indicates fullness of the moon. In fine condition, this is an uncommon form of lunar / solar calendar. We note a variant version, undoubtedly by the same maker, marked as a tidal calendar "High Water and Moon¹s Age" (Tesseract Catalogue 38, item 58). (Featured in "Wondrous Devices" exhibition, Hudson River Museum, 2018) (8088) $750.

 

Innovative Telescope in Silver Plate Click on any image for a larger view.

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SPLENDID MINIATURE TELESCOPE WITH COMBINABLE EYE LENSES AND SOLAR CAP, English, c. last quarter 18th century, signed "J. Bleuler, London." Constructed with tubes and fittings of Sheffield silver plated copper and brass, this little telescope opens from 2-3/4" to 6" (7 - 15 cm) with three drawtubes. The main tube is finished with black enamel over copper. Giving erect images, the optics are a greenish triplet achromatic objective, two swiveling eyelenses useable singly or in combination, and a slip-on solar filter / dust cap. It is signed on the largest drawtube, and numbered 1, 2, 3 on the smallest. Condition is very fine noting a few scratches to the enamel. It is complete with the original cylindrical wood carrying case bound in red Morocco leather. The innovative maker of this unusual telescope was John Bleuler (1757 - 1829) of Ludgate Hill, apprenticed to Shuttleworth, made free in the Spectaclemakers Company in 1779. (8028) $2200.

 

Carl Zeiss circa 1930 Click on any image for a larger view.

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OFFICIAL CARL ZEISS PLANETARIUM PHOTOGRAPHS, German, c. 1930, the 14 original silver print photographs measuring 5" x 7" (13 x 18 cm), and variously bearing "Carl Zeiss, Jena" stamps, code number stamps, and/or applied printed descriptions. Depicted are planetaria, equipment, and activities. Most sites are in Germany; there are dramatic views of the powerful modernist architecture of the Weimar Republic applied to planetarium buildings. One unforgettable image shows Mussolini departing the Mailand (Milan) "Ulrico Hoepli" planetarium at its dedication on 20 May 1930. (8038) $1150.

 

Uncommon Globes from Chicago Click on any image for a larger view.

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AN AMERICAN GLOBE PAIR, c. 1910, each 10" (25 cm) diameter globe signed "Atlas School Supply Co., Chicago, Manufacturers of Globes." The terrestrial gores are color lithographed and dense with detail, and include isothermal lines, important undersea cables, and wireless communications. The celestial gores are printed in blue, with numerous stars with their astronomical letter and number identifications, and with the traditional constellation figures finely printed in pale bronze. Each globe is mounted in a bent wire semi-meridian, which is inserted into an 11-1/2" (29 cm) tall turned wood base with applied distinctive decor of winged torches (?) and sunflowers (?), gold painted throughout. Condition is good noting some browning to the paper, a couple of small scratches, and some flaking to the gold. Possibly of Masonic provenance, an interesting American globe pair. (7029) $2200.

 

Four-Eyepiece Telescope by Plossl Click on any image for a larger view.

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QUADRUPLE-EYEPIECE THREE-DRAW MONOCULAR, Austrian, early 19th century, signed "Plofsl in Wien." Opening from 3-1/4" to 8-1/4" (8 - 21 cm) and constructed of silver plated brass and copper, this small telescope is fitted with a cemented doublet achromatic objective, and a wheel of four selectable eye lenses. The tubes are rolled and soldered, not drawn. It offers upright images of high magnification but with a small field of view. Condition is fine noting negligible dents and a tiny edge chip to the lens. There is no handle or mount. The original shaped wood case is lined in purple silk and bound in red Morocco leather. Georg Simon Plossl (1794 - 1868) trained with the Voigtlander optical firm in Vienna, founding his own workshop in 1823. By 1845 he employed no less than 36 workers, and was famous for the quality of his microscopes and telescopes. (8078) $1900.

 

 

Prague-Centered Projection with Celestial Volvelle Click on any image for a larger view.

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THE URANOSCOPE OF PROFESSOR ADOLF MACH, Czech, c. early 20th century, signed "Uranoskop. Astronomicko-zemepisny ukazatel. Sestavil prof. Adolf Mach." Constructed on heavy card, 18-5/8" x 19-3/4" (47 x 50 cm), this unusual planisphere has a rotating volvelle of the heavens printed on starched linen, and a rotating brass index pointer, with readout against an outer hour scale divided every minute. Underneath the volvelle is a fixed map of the earth, printed in colors, utilizing a most remarkable projection centered on Prague. Condition is good with general light soiling and wear, and wrinkling to the linen. (8048) $950.

 

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