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Hello. Most 18th/early 19th century telescopes that I've seen have three legged folding stands, made of wood or brass. I was in England a while ago, went into an antique scientific instruments shop, and saw two that were unusual: the first was a 3' long brass telescope mounted to a 3 sided, 3 legged mahogany table with a shelf underneath. The 2nd was a smaller table top telescope that was mounted to its own brass fitted mahogany storage case. Sorry that I don't have photos. I'm especially interested in the latter. I've seen old brass microscopes that screw-mount into brass fittings on the lids of their wooden carrying cases, but never a telescope. Is there documentation of "custom" stands like these being made and used? Have found nothing at the library or on line. Thanks.

Hi Nicholas

There is a long history of interesting and unusual telescope mounts.  Perhaps the first one is by Isaac Newton himself...which you can see here:

As you say, a lot of smaller telescopes in those days were simply mounted on a tripod.  But the innovation in mounts is certainly more extensive than the innovation in optics. If you want to see some really odd telescopes, look at these monsters by William Herschel.

I am not a collector of old instruments, so I can't tell you how rare the one you saw might be.  But I can tell you that if you do a web search for Stellefane  (the amateur telescope makers central) and add in telescope mounts, you will get a wild variety of wonderful mounts.  

Paul Wagner  


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Paul Wagner


Astronomy and telescope making. Have made at least seven telescopes, both refractors and reflectors, and have spent 30 years looking at the nighttime sky.

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