Three draw brass and mahogany telescope by George Willson, circa 1800, of medium size

Three draw brass and mahogany telescope by George Willson, circa 1800, of medium size

Stock Number: 110


Offered for sale is a three draw telescope by George Willson, built just around 1800, of medium size. The barrel is probably mahogany - all the screws are original and both the end caps are present. The scope is engraved on the flat face of the eyepiece, "G.Willson, London".


29 inches open



Country of manufacture

UK and Ireland

Categories: Navigational instruments, Telescopes - Refracting


This brass and wood telescope offered for sale is in excellent working order, and reasonable condition. It has three brass draws and extends to 29″. The barrel is wood, probably mahogany, and the screws holding the brass fittings are all original. When folded the scope is just over 9″ long, with a relatively large OD of 1.9″. 

The good condition is probably down to the fact that it must have lain unused for many years, since the eyepiece lenses were jumbled up on receipt. The second draw is stiff, from a few knocks, but works fine: it has to be treated with care on closing, as in previous times the slider has been pushed apart. The slider body had been resoldered to its raised face, on the end, and no longer can be screwed home tight: this is the reason for the reduced price now quoted. The soldering of the slider end-face has been re-made this year.

The objective lens is protected by the removable brass lens cap.

The maker is George Willson, who worked under his own name from 1798-1802, from “Wardrobe Place”, Doctors Common, London: reference books suggest this is very close to where the Patent Office now stands, near Chancery Lane. After then, he and George Dixey, another apprentice who started with Willson working under James Moulding, worked together as Willson & Dixey, from premises opposite St James’s Church, Piccadilly, and their business expanded rapidly.

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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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