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05 Aluminium for Scientific Instruments

image of Aluminium for Scientific Instruments

Anita McConnell (Annals of Science vol. 46) describes the history of aluminium and its alloys in scientific instruments when pure samples of it became available after 1854. Two Parisian instrument makers exhibited instruments at the Paris Exposition in 1855, William Ford Stanley filed patents in 1861, Negretti & Zambra exhibited examples in 1864 and Troughton & Simms used aluminium alloy in parts of the Indian theodolite. Problems of suitable alloys and of soldering methods had to be
overcome. The metal was more popular with United States makers than with European, although Casella, Elliott and Stanley offered surveying instruments, compass and barometer cases, telescopes and binoculars. By 1912 “the heyday of the aluminium instrument was over” although later examples exist. Scientific instruments did not benefit from the special properties of aluminium to the same extent as other industries.

The binoculars displayed are embossed, “Adjusted by Elliott Bros 101 St Martin's Lane”, suggesting dates between 1880 and 1889, but are probably of French manufacture.

The single draw telescope with screw focusing is signed ‘THE FEATHERWEIGHT SPOTTER / J.H. STEWARD LTD / LONDON’ and weighs only 400 grammes. Estimated date is mid 20th century when Steward were active with rifle clubs and competitions.

Collection: Ron Bristow, Kent

Objects lent by Ron Bristow, Kent:

38. Elliott Company History Illustrated by Artefacts, 1835-1940

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