A long Ramsden telescope, with a single draw and a tapered wooden barrel

A long Ramsden telescope, with a single draw and a tapered wooden barrel

Stock Number: 326


For sale is an unusual Ramsden telescope from 1790, 31 inches long when in use, with a single draw and a tapered wooden barrel, probably in oak.


31 inches long in operation



Country of manufacture

UK and Ireland

Categories: Navigational instruments, Telescopes - Refracting


Jesse Ramsden worked from 1762 to 1800, and was one of the foremost telescope/spyglass makers of his time. For sale is a telescope of an unusual style for him, probably indicating an earlier date: it is a single draw wooden barrel design, but unlike larger naval telescopes of this style, the barrel is relatively small diameter and very light, making it easily hand-held. It is nevertheless considered to be for naval use. Overall barrel length is 25 inches, with the single draw adding 6 inches when in focus. The largest diameter is 2 inches, but the optical image is still sharp and clear. The telescope gives a good magnification, and is easy to focus.

The single brass draw has a few age related dents, but runs smoothly in the sleeve. On the draw “Ramsden, London” is engraved on two lines, in script: this engraving is worn, by polishing presumably, but is still legible as can be seen on some of the photos. The engraving is positioned so that the end of the words are closest to the eyepiece. 


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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. Since then I have made a lot of friends via the internet, advising them on how to identify, date or repair their scopes. At the age of 74 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 relatives of their previous owners, because they found the stories on my website. Now the collection needs to be dispersed more systematically. If you are looking for a specific telescope, just ask, maybe I have one! If you want better pictures of the telescopes shown here, these can be emailed. Nick Denbow, based in Alresford, Hampshire: contact via email on [email protected]

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