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Inventory no. 98721 - Former Display Label

Gregorian Reflector

Signed "IAMES SHORT, LONDON, FECIT. = No. = 1 = 144 = 1742 = & REPAIR'D BY THOMAS SHORT HIS BROTHER 1770".

The numbers signify: 1, the model number; 144, the focal length in inches; 1742, the year of completion.

The octagonal body tube is made of pine planks; all fittings are of brass. The stand is modern. There are three eyepieces, two secondary mirrors and the large 18-inch diameter primary mirror cast in speculum metal, an alloy of copper and tin.

This telescope is an example of the largest model made by Short, with a focal length of 12 feet; it was advertised at 800 guineas. Only three were ever made; this is the first, and the only one to survive. It is the first really large reflecting telescope ever to have been constructed, having been supplied to the Duke of Marlborough in 1742 for use at his house near St. James's Palace. By 1763, the telescope had been dismantled; in 1812 it was given to the Radcliffe Observatory, Oxford, but seems never to have been erected there. Benjamin Wilson (1721-1788), who painted Short's portrait, attempted to draw a map of the Moon, c.1758, with the aid of this telescope. Wilson not only found the Moon too bright for his eyes when viewed through this instrument, but he remarked "as the observations were made in the open air, and in the evenings, I catched cold continually: and not withstanding, Mr Short offered me 100 Guineas for the drawing when compleated".

Presented by the Radcliffe Trustees

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