Rubergall single draw telescope, silver plate, leather bound

Rubergall single draw telescope, silver plate, leather bound

Stock Number: 79


For sale is an unrestored Rubergall single draw telescope from circa 1830, originally silver plated on copper, 25 inches long and 2 inches diameter, working optically.


25 inches open, 19.5 closed: 2 inches diameter



Country of manufacture

UK and Ireland

Categories: Navigational instruments, Telescopes - Refracting


Thomas Rubergall is a famous name in telescopes and other instruments: he was appointed as Optician to the Duke of Clarence and St Andrews, who became William IV in 1830. This scope is engraved on the first draw “Tho. Rubergall – Optn. to the Duke of Clarence – 24 Coventry Street, London”.  Gloria Clifton quotes a known address for Rubergall as at 24 Coventry Street in 1840-1851, which is even after William IV had died. Since Rubergall was also appointed as Optician to William IV, we have to assume this scope pre-dates 1830, but that Clifton did not find any earlier references for Rubergall at that address.

The telescope has not been restored, nor polished at all, since I acquired it in 2003 – but it looks like it has never had any real attention, other than polishing the silver, since 1830! The result is that the silver plating has mostly worn away, leaving the base copper visible – but in contrast to brass, this has not tarnished. Strangely, neither has the remaining silver plating.

The leather cover over the barrel is good quality leather, stitched along the full length, but over 50% of the stitching has broken as the leather contracted (before it came to me). The leather feels as though it is bonded to the metal surface below, so is still tight.

The lenses all unscrew from their locations, although the objective lens itself does not want to come out of the main brass lens holder. The single draw has one small dent, but this is the only visible damage from use: this draw has some score lines around the main focal position. It wobbles a little in the slider, which is an unusual design, but this could be tightened.

This telescope is offered for sale – for a lovely restoration project maybe? Whilst listed as a maritime navigational instrument, it was more likely a Gentleman’s hunting or nature watching aid!

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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 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

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