Todd Moriarty of Macomb Township, owns this 1920s wooden tripod and telescope. (Todd McInturf / The Detroit News)
Winter’s cold and clear days make it some of the best times for stargazing. Once used by both scientists and sailors, telescopes and other navigational tools have also been part of a long-popular hobby, independent appraiser Brian Thomczek recently told Todd Moriarty of Macomb Township.
Thomczek recently took a look at a vintage telescope that Moriarty and his wife inherited from a deceased uncle in New York as part of an appraisal event held at Judy Frankel Antiques, part of the Antiques Centre of Troy. “His house was loaded with antiques,” Moriarty told the appraiser. “We sold some, but others, like this one, we didn’t know enough about.”
Thomczek said telescopes were once everyday tools in the scientific, nautical and maritime industries. He wasn’t sure if the Moriarty’s large standing telescope was used by a ship or as part of a hobby, but he said the names on it define it as an instrument of especially good quality. Budding collectors looking to learn more should check out the website www.antiquetelescopes.org, which contains a fascinating history and more.
Marked “Eastern Science Co.,” it can be traced to a Boston-based company that made telescopes and surveying equipment. The company was founded in 1919 by two astronomy graduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and designed and produced instruments for astronomers, some of which are still on display in the astrophysics department at Dartmouth College. The company later shifted to different types of manufacturing, include other machines and eventually silicon-chip-related technology.
Other marks on the telescope and stand include “Busch S. Germany” and “E.B. Meyrowitz.” Known for its excellent optics, Busch was founded by Emil Busch (1820-1888) and once produced cameras and other optical equipment. The company was taken over in the 1920s and closed by the end of World War II. E.B. Meyrowitz is also known as an optical pioneer and for its high-quality lenses, says Thomczek, with a history that dates to 1852 in Prussia. Still operating, the company has offices in the U.K. and France and is known for its custom eyewear.
Thomczek thought the piece probably dated to the 1920s and would be worth at least $600, maybe more. There are a lot of people in the United Kingdom who snap up scientific instruments made in the United States,” he told Moriarty. “You could do well with this among maritime and geographic collectors.” He said the original stand makes it worth more. “Whoever purchased this purchased the stand and the telescope together,” he told Moriarty. “That makes it even more attractive to collectors.”
Moriarty says he is still intending to the sell the piece, which once stood on a porch in New York, but is glad he found out more about it before he did. His experience shows that it’s always a good idea to learn more about collectibles before selling them lest you make a costly mistake. “We almost put it in a garage sale but changed our mind,” he told the appraiser.
About this item
Object: Vintage telescope
Owner: Todd Moriarty, Macomb Township
Appraised by: Brian Thomczek, independent appraiser
Estimated value: $600 and up
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