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Marine Telescope

From the Collection of Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village 89 Merri Street Warrnambool Victoria

Marine style single draw brass telescope with a sunshade. The single draw has no split and the second cartridge is held in a long brass tube within the single draw, mounted from the objective end. The eyepiece is flat and at the end of the first draw in a very faded engraving that is believed to read "John Browning, 63 Strand, and should read London under the word strand but this is hard to establish given the engravings condition. This interpretation of the engraving has been arrived at by examination of other John Browning telescope engraving examples.
L 80 cm x Dia 5.5 cm
Object Registration
john browning, telescope, spectroscopy, optometry, scientific instruments, william spencer browning, optician, navigational instruments, microscopical society of london, aeronautical society, marine technology
Historical information
John Browning was particularly well known for his scientific advances in the fields of spectroscopy, astronomy, and optometry. Between 1856 and 1872, Browning acquired provisional patents for designs of numerous scientific instruments. He was also the recipient of an award at the 1862 International Exhibition held in London. Also recognised for his temperature-compensated aneroid barometer. Browning's scientific instruments were used in physics, chemistry, and biology. The products he designed and manufactured included spectroscopes, telescopes, microscopes, barometers, photometers, cameras, ophthalmologist, and electrical equipment such as electric lamps.
John Browning was born around 1831 in Kent, England. His father, William Spencer Browning, was a maker of nautical instruments. John Browning's great-grandfather was also an instrument maker as well as John’s brother Samuel Browning of the firms Spencer & Browning and Spencer, Browning & Rust, who also manufactured navigational instruments. The latter firm was in operation in London from 1784 to 1840 and was succeeded by the firm of Spencer, Browning & Co.
John Browning initially intended to follow the medical profession and entered Guy's Hospital, a teaching hospital and a school of medicine. Despite having passed the required examinations, however, he abandoned his plans. Instead, he apprenticed with his father, William Spencer Browning. At the same time, in the late 1840s, he was a student attending the Royal College of Chemistry several days per week. 

By the early 1870s, practical optics had become John Browning's primary interest, and he listed his occupation as an optician on the census records from 1871 to 1901. He was well known among London's ophthalmic surgeons for his various ophthalmic instruments. He had a large part in reforming the art of crafting spectacles. Other achievements were as an author of the book, How to Use Our Eyes and How to Preserve them by the Aid of Spectacles. Published in 1883, the book included thirty-seven illustrations, including a diagram demonstrating the anatomy of the eye.  In 1895, he was one of the founders of the "British Ophthalmology" the first professional organisation for optometry. He was not only its first president but also registered as its first member so many considered him to be the first professional optometrist. Other professional organisations he belonged too was as a member of “The Aeronautical Society of Great Britain”. In 1871 constructing the first wind tunnel located at Greenwich Marine Engineering Works.  He was also a member of other scientific organizations, such as the “Microscopical Society of London”, the “Meteorological Society”, and the “Royal”. Then in 1908 the company of W. Watson & Son, opticians and camera makers, took over John Browning's company since 1901 John Browning had been semi-retired but in 1908 he fully retired and moved to Bournemouth in Hampshire.  He died in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire in 1925.
When Made
Made By
John Browning (Maker)
The telescope is significant for its association with one of the world’s leading scientific instrument makers and inventor of the 19th and early 20th century. It is believed the donation came off a wreck either in Port Philip Bay or between Point Lonsdale and the Nepean Heads making it a significant maritime historical artifact. Its provenance is good given it was taken off a wreck in this area by the Point Lonsdale lighthouse caretaker over fifty years ago while diving and eventually donated to Flagstaff Hill by the man who brought it off the caretaker's son over twenty years ago. Examples of John Browning's telescopes because of their scientific and historical importance are highly valued by collectors.

Inscriptions & Markings
"John Browning, engraved to the first tube in copper plate style "63 STRAND" Engraved under in capital text
Last updated
26 Feb 2020 at 10:44AM