ATS FAQ - Telescopes & Collecting
Can you help me identify this Telescope? Maker? Instrument?

Frequently, ATS members can identify a telescope or it's maker and there is a very high success rate in that regard. It is surprising how many makers didn't sign their work, but characteristic design and construction details can usually pin-point the instrument's origin. Submitting an image, especially by e-mail to, is especially helpful and the more detailed and numerous the images, the better. Also, try to include images or descriptions of accessories, cases and any pertinent historical data. For example, if the telescope or item is known to have existed on a certain date, that will rule out any later makers.

Where can I get more information about a Telescope? Maker? Item?

The membership is highly knowledgeable about sources of information and research and several members and member institutions have extensive astronomical libraries. Casual inquiries will be directed to ATS members most likely to have your answer. More serious research inquiries will likely be handled on an ongoing basis, ie: members will be made aware of your research interest and as new information becomes available, they will usually forward it on a continuing basis. Typically, ATS members have been very generous with sharing information and research. Conversely, it is appreciated when the ATS can use your material in the Journal or on this Web site.

Can you tell me what my telescope/book/accessory is worth?

It has been the policy of the ATS that, officially, the organization does not comment on the value of any item. However, individual members will usually give an opinion on an item or steer the inquirer to information about recent, similar sales or auctions. "Caveat Emptor" is considered an appropriate strategy by many members who are experienced collectors and being thoroughly familiar with an item you intend to purchase is always a good policy.

Can you assist with an appraisal?

The ATS does not offer an appraisal service. But there are members of the Society who have done appraisals or who can aid in locating an appropriate appraisal firm.

I am looking to buy a (insert your hot collectable here!) .... Can you help me find one?

In a word ... maybe. The ATS is not a buying, selling or trading service. However, as a Society, members are constantly sharing their information and many members are collectors. One benefit of joining the ATS is that instruments that become available are usually noticed quickly by ATS members who are collectors, and the word spreads.

What about Spyglasses; Multiple Draw Telescopes; Signal Corp. Telescopes; and Military Optics?

Terrestrial telescopes (showing a normal upright, left-right correct image) were extremely common in years past ... and therefore we have seen innumerable requests for information about them ... if fact, too many to answer individually. Unfortunately there is no published source that is helpful as a guide to spyglasses that we are aware of. Also, since the Antique Telescope Society is principally organized around the history of the Astronomical Telescope (much more rare and typically of much greater quality), this site does not maintain significant information about spyglasses. The following short treatment gives some background on styles and uses of these instruments. At the end is a short bibliography of sources for identifying makers whose names are engraved upon the instruments or cases. This is a good start for researching a spyglass. Without a maker's name, there is little hope of ever identifying one of these instruments as there were literally hundreds of makers over the last two or three centuries. Finally, regarding the value of spyglasses, a great number have appeared in the internet auctions and For Sale sites and this is the best place to get a feel for the value of just such an instrument since it is indicative of current market conditions. Typically, though, only the finest specimens with good optics and some interesting feature (superior optics; a nice case; a presentation engraving; a highly prized maker's name; exotic materials) command good prices. Unfortunately, the vast majority don't fall into this category.

Additional Notes