THE ULTIMATE IN DECORATION ON ALUMINUM — ENGLISH BINOCULARS FOR THE CHINESE MARKET
Stock Number: 10191
For sale, antique aluminum binoculars made in London specifically for the Chinese market. Aluminum was not available in large quantity at the time, so these are quite unusual for the period.
4 inches (10 cm) closed
Country of manufacture
UK and Ireland
THE ULTIMATE IN DECORATION ON ALUMINUM — ENGLISH BINOCULARS FOR THE CHINESE MARKET, c. 1870, signed “Callaghan, 23A New Bond St., corner of Conduit St., London; Made for Lapraik, Hongkong.” Measuring 4″ (10 cm) long (closed), the binoculars extend to 5-1/2″ by geared center focus and sliding sunshades. Every square millimeter seems covered with abundant floral and geometric decoration. Condition is very fine and functional, giving excellent images.
The maker was the optician William Callaghan (probably the elder, his son of the same name taking over the firm in 1875). In 1866, Callaghan was advertising “The New Derby Race Glass,” as well as “Opera, Race, and Field Glasses made by Voigtländer,” and further “The New Aluminum Race Glasses, though of the largest size, weigh but a few ounces. Patronized by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke of Cambridge, and the elite of the Jockey Club.”
The inscription explains that this pair was made expressly for the Lapraik firm. Their watch and chronometer business was founded in Hong Kong c. 1845, by the Scotsman Douglas Lapraik (1818 – 1869), and evolved into a group of enterprises including mercantile, steamboat running, banking, dock properties, etc. A successor firm now has 220,000 employees!
Metallic aluminum was first isolated in 1825, and was not available in significant quantities until the last decade of the century. Here we have a splendid early example, with the epitome of decorative craftsmanship.
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 email@example.com.