A collector’s naval telescope, Victorian, by Dollond and John Browning
Stock Number: 180
For sale is a large single draw naval telescope, owned and used by Sir John David Luce, First Sea Lord in the 1960s. Engraved from Dollond, and also John Browning, 63 Strand, London. Leather bodied, metal barrel - restored with new objective pair.
98cms long, 6.4cms diameter
Country of manufacture
UK and Ireland
The telescope offered for sale here will interest a collector: it is a large Victorian style single draw telescope, with a leather covered barrel. It is 98cms long fully extended, with the sunshade, and 6.4cms diameter. The single draw has no split: the second cartridge is held in a long tube within the single draw, mounted from the objective end.
The unit has a sliding lens cover within the bell shaped eyepiece. At the end of the first draw the engraving says, reading from the top: “John Browning, 63 Strand, London” with the word London in a different script typeface to the other words. Below that is is engraved “Supplied by, Dollond.London”. My interpretation is that this scope, undoubtedly late Victorian, was supplied by Dollond the makers to John Browning, for him to sell. The design does not fit with the earlier John Brownings of around 1800, so this must have been after Browning & Co took over from Spencer, Browning & Rust, who were operating from 1840-1870, and possibly continued as traders after 1870.
The telescope was acquired for renovation in 2013. The seller advised that it had been owned by Sir John David Luce, First Sea Lord in the 1960s, who died in 1971. Sir John was Uncle to Miranda Hart. The renovation involved replacement of the broken objective pair. A spare lens pair of similar vintage, and the right size, was available in my collection. The replacement is not perfect, but gives an excellent image. The telescope needs to be fully extended to achieve distant focus, and the objective pair has a short spacer in the lens mount.
The draw and main tube have no significant marks, all threads unscrew easily, and the leather is in good condition. The telescope is not too heavy, and is easily hand-held.
Ask the Dealer
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 email@example.com