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).
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David and Yola Coffeen both have enjoyed academic careers, as planetary astronomer and as linguist/educator. But since 1982 (yes, 1982!) they have been full-time dealers in early scientific and medical instruments, under the name Tesseract. Selling primarily by catalogue (over 100 issued so far) they also have a web presence at www.etesseract.com, and can be contacted at email@example.com.