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Live Auction

Summer Fine Art & Antiques Auction - Day 1

Sat, Jul 8, 2023 09:00AM EDT
Lot 564

Dolland Maritime Telescope, USS Kearsarge related, with tripod and box

Estimate: $1,400 - $1,600
Sold for

Bid Increments

Price Bid Increment
$0 $10
$100 $25
$500 $50
$1,000 $100
$3,000 $200
$5,000 $500
$10,000 $1,000
$20,000 $2,000
$50,000 $5,000
$100,000 $10,000

Dollond maritime telescope or spyglass of US Navy Rear Admiral John Winslow, likely used during the USS Kearsarge's epic battle with the CSS Alabama off Cherbourg, France, 1864, and descended in his family. The 3-draw telescope has a wooden barrel, brass fittings and three brass draw tubes, and is signed "Dollond, London" in flowing script on the first draw tube. It retains its original hand dovetailed wooden box with mounts and additional lenses. The telescope measures 10" closed and 20" extended. It features a 2" diameter main objective lens with green tint for reduced glare at sea and the original brass end cap. English, early to mid 19th century. Note: English-made Dollond telescopes were prized for their optical quality and depended upon by some of the world's most important historical figures. George Washington's Dolland telescope, essential to his tactical decisions during the American Revolution, is in the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, DC, and a Dolland telescope owned by Thomas Jefferson is at Monticello. 19th century Naval heroes Lord Nelson and Captain Cook also took Dolland telescopes to sea. History: English born Royal Society Fellow John Dolland (1706-1761) joined his son Peter's business of making optical instruments about 1752, and patented the achromatic lens a few years later, earning him the Copley Medal from the Royal Society. Shortly before his death, Dolland was made Optician to the King. After John Dolland's death, Peter and his company continued to make optical advancements and produce high quality telescopes and equipment through the 19th century. In 1927, Dolland & Co. merged with Aitchison & Co. to form Dolland & Aitchison, the well known British high street chain of opticians. The epic naval engagement between the CSS Alabama, the most famous of the Confederate Navy cruisers, and the USS Kearsarge off the coast of France on June 19, 1864, is one of the two most famous single ship versus single ship actions of the American Civil War, the other being the duel of the ironclads CSS Virginia versus the USS Monitor. Both had significant affects on the naval actions of the Civil War and beyond. Throughout her career, the CSS Alabama, under the command of Raphael Semmes, conducted seven raids around the world against American shipping taking or destroying 65 Union vessels while boarding over 400 others. She put into Cherbourg, France on June 11, 1864 for repairs. Hunting her was the USS Kearsarge, also a sloop of war that was steam powered, launched in September 1861 and by February 1862 had set sail for Spain. She was under the command of Captain Winslow, also a veteran naval officer, Mayflower descendant, and a past friend and roommate of Semmes. Finally, on June 14, 1864, Winslow found his prey in the French harbor and the battle occurred on June 19 (details are found in the Kearsarge's abstract log, also offered in this auction). Winslow's crew had draped heavy chains over the side of the wooden ship, creating in effect chain mail armor, then planked over the chains to make them invisible, providing greater protection from Alabama’s fire, which came with great intensity. Several rounds that hit the Kearsarge failed to explode however, and ultimately it was the Alabama that began taking on water and sank. About 40 Confederates were killed; one Kearsarge sailor later died of his injuries, and Raphael Semmes escaped. Captain John Winslow became a household name; the Kearsarge victory won him a promotion to Commodore and he was voted the thanks of Congress. He was advanced to Rear Admiral in 1870 and commanded the Pacific Squadron until 1872, a year before his death of natural causes. Note: for more information on Winslow and the victory of the USS Kearsarge, including other objects related to the ship, see lots #561-567 in this auction). This lot will include a copy of a notarized provenance letter from the direct descendant of Admiral Winslow.


Telescope exterior in overall good condition with wear to wooden elements and expected oxidation to brass elements. Originality and functionality of lenses not guaranteed. The wooden original case is extremely worn, with losses, dampstaining, and shrinkage crack to top.

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If paying with wire transfer, please use the following information:
Bank: Pinnacle Bank
150 Third Avenue South, Suite 900
Nashville, TN 37201
Phone # (865) 766-3000
Swift Code: PNFPUS44
Routing, Transit, ABA: 064008637
Beneficiary: Case Antiques, Inc.
4310 Papermill Drive
Knoxville, TN 37909
Account #: NOT DISCLOSED (please refer to your invoice email for the Deposit Account Number or contact us )

Private TN collection, acquired March, 2023 from direct descendant of USS Kearsarge commander Admiral John Ancrum Winslow (1811-1873) through his only surviving grandson Brig. Genl. Eben Eveleth Winslow, along with other items in this auction.