Astronomical and navigational instruments, Optical equipment

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Achromatic telescope

Astronomical and navigational instruments

Object connections:

Collection Astronomical and navigational instruments, Optical equipment
ExhibitionsTraders: The East India Company and Asia
User collections Tea: breaking into the tea trade by NMMExhibitions
Gallery locationTraders Gallery (Floor plans)
PeopleProvenance: Macartney, George
Provenance: de Montauban, Gen
Provenance: Chien Loung, Emperor
Provenance: Franck, Bernard
makers: Fraser & Son
EventsBoxer Rebellion, 1900
Publication(s)Treasures of the National Maritime Museum
Gloria Clifton and Nigel Rigby
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Object details:

Object ID NAV1579
Description The telescope is of a standard configuration for the early nineteenth century: three draw tubes and an achromatic objective lens. The maker’s name, ‘Fraser & Son London’, is engraved on the eyepiece end and helps to date the piece to no earlier than 1799. The decoration of the barrel comprises blue enamel, pearls and gold, with the addition of a watch, which screws onto the end of the barrel to form a cover for the objective lens. The watch is numbered 4647. Watch mechanism: gilt-brass going-barrel Lepine-calibre movement with cylinder escapement; gold three-arm balance and balance-spring with polished-steel, indexed regulator Although it was presumably engraved with the Fraser name in England – and perhaps gilded there, since the engraving is under the gilding – the watch and telescope appear to have been imported from Switzerland. The enamelling is characteristic of Swiss work of the period. Certain details of the watch, notably the style of the dial and hands, suggest that it was made in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. It is currently assumed that the telescope entered China as a gift or purchase at some time in the early nineteenth century. When acquired by the Museum in 1938, was said to have been one of a large group of scientific instruments presented to Emperor Chien Lung (reigned 1736-96) by Lord Macartney in 1793, and subsequently taken by General de Montauban from the Winter Palace in Peking during the Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901). Neither of these can be true, however, since Fraser's partnership with his son began in 1799 and General de Montauban died in 1870.
Date made circa 1800

Artist/Maker Fraser & Son
Place made Switzerland; London
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Materials brass; glass; gold; pearls; steel; enamel
Measurements Length: 177 (closed, with cap); 493 (fully extended, without cap); Diameter: 35 mm (barrel), 44 mm (max)
  • Achromatic telescope (NAV1579)
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