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.
Ask the Dealer
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.