A classic Ramsden 3-draw mahogany telescope from 1790

A classic Ramsden 3-draw mahogany telescope from 1790

Stock Number: 309


Offered for sale is a classic Ramsden 3-draw mahogany telescope. Built by Jesse Ramsden, and signed on the first draw "Ramsden, London", the telescope is dated to the 1790s at the latest, since Ramsden, son-in-law of Dollond, died in 1800. It is a high quality medium sized telescope with three brass draws and a mahogany barrel, complete with the objective end cap - probably sold to a country gentleman or a ship's officer.


21 inches



Country of manufacture

UK and Ireland

Categories: Navigational instruments, Telescopes - Refracting


This first antique telescope offered for sale here on Fleaglass is a classic, vintage item, built by one of the finest telescope makers of the C18th, Jesse Ramsden. It is a classic design of three brass draws folding into a mahogany barrel. Open, the telescope is 21″ (53cms) long, closed it is 7″ – or 18cms – long, with an outside diameter of 44mm (1.75″), so it is easy to use as a hand-held scope, but also neat and compact when closed. For a medium sized telescope it offers good magnification, and the lenses are undamaged. Even the brass draws are relatively undamaged – they do show several minor dings sustained during 220 years of use. 

A particular feature of telescopes of this vintage is that the engraving on the first draw, in script, is on what I could call the right hand side, ie the initial letter (R of Ramsden) is closest to the eyepiece, in contrast to post 1800 scopes. The eyepiece itself is of the flat-faced style used in the 1700s, and this is fitted with a sliding dust cover. There is slight damage around the eyepiece rim, visible on the photos.

During the inspection and renovation of this telescope, it was found that one lens of the four in the cartridges within the first draw was a substitute lens, not of the correct type: this was replaced with a lens of similar vintage to the Ramsden (in fact from a J Webb telescope), which was of the correct style and made the telescope function correctly. 

Please ask if there are any questions, or for more photographs

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GB Telescope Collector

I first started using a telescope in the 60s, to identify aeroplanes arriving at Yeadon airport, in Yorkshire. Then I started to collect and restore vintage brass scopes in the 1990s. The collection boomed later, in the early days of the internet, rising to around 300 in number. I then made a lot of friends via the internet, advising them on how to identify, date or repair their scopes. At the age of 72 I need to disperse these wonderful bits of engineering history, because they still work today as well as they did 200+ years ago! That is the fascination....Some of my collection have already been sold to collectors spread around, in the UK, USA, Ireland, Israel, France and Germany. Several have been returned to the UK descendants of the people who made them, or relations of their previous owners, because they found the stories on my website. Now the collection needs to be dispersed more systematically, so therefore Fleaglass.com is the place to find the real enthusiasts. The first dozen or so telescopes will be added shortly, so please visit this site again soon! Alternatively, if you are looking for a specific telescope, tell me, as maybe I have one!
Nick Denbow, based in Alresford, Hampshire: contact via email on nick@nickdenbow.com

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