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Astronomy/UNCONVENTIONAL ANTIQUE TELESCOPE STANDS

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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.

Answer
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:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NewtonsTelescopeReplica.jpg

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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:40_foot_telescope_120_cm_48_inch_reflecting_te

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  

Astronomy

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Paul Wagner

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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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