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WW1 Binoculars?


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#1 THE SHINY SEVENTH

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 07:39 PM

I have come by these glasses, which my mother-in-law tells me, were brought home by her father after his service abroad with the 16th Royal rifles(untill recieving GSW to head and shoulder). Firstly, are they of the period, and secondly, if so, are they field or naval? Many thanks for any help, Sean

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#2 pioneercorps

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 09:50 PM

Hi,

They were used in WW1, I have a pair, the double broad arrows facing each other, this was done to show that they were decommissioned from military use. I would say they were general use binoculars, if they were artillery, they usually have distance markings in one of the lenses.

Regards.
Gerwyn

#3 khaki

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 10:06 PM

Hello Sean,
I have an almost identical pair that I was given as a child, fortunately I looked after them, they are marked with a broad arrow and an N (navy), I think from memory that the makers name can be found around the inside rim of the eye cups. They are often French manufacture and I have seen the type used as far back as the US Civil War.
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#4 pioneercorps

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 10:18 PM

Hello Sean,
I have an almost identical pair that I was given as a child, fortunately I looked after them, they are marked with a broad arrow and an N (navy), I think from memory that the makers name can be found around the inside rim of the eye cups. They are often French manufacture and I have seen the type used as far back as the US Civil War.
khaki

Hi Khaki

Just checked mine for a N ( Naval ) and can't find one, where would it have been stamped.

Regards.
Gerwyn

#5 khaki

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 10:37 PM

My bino's are stamped on the (I call it the barrel, don't know the technical name) in the same vicinity as those stamped with the double arrows.
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#6 pioneercorps

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 10:43 PM

My bino's are stamped on the (I call it the barrel, don't know the technical name) in the same vicinity as those stamped with the double arrows.
khaki

Hi Khaki

Thank you for getting back to me, no luck, not even with a magnifying glass. the opposite side as MK V, and what looks like a S or 5, then a P and a small L, with a No 42600.

Regards.
Gerwyn

#7 dycer

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 12:11 AM

WWI Binos have been discussed on the Forum before.
My inherited ones bear no resemblance to the photo posted but do bear my forebear's signature i.e he scratched his name and a 1917 date on the Bino's casing which define them as being, on the Western Front.
George
p.s.In my Grandparents 1950's House were a pair of binos.My Grandfather served in the Royal Navy during WW1.The pair, on the photo,look to me to be Naval.

#8 THE SHINY SEVENTH

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 09:59 AM

Thanks for all your replies, they are in the original case which is marked as French made. Nice to have the period confirmed though, as with a lot of this, by the time it gets to you, there have been all sorts of stories attached to it and you cant be certain where it came from. My father-in-law used them for many years at the races, so he must of looked after them as optically they are perfect, and very little sign of wear and tear all round. I did find last night a reference to whats been called the double arrows on here as 'crows feet', is this the correct term? Regards Sean

#9 pioneercorps

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 12:21 PM

Thanks for all your replies, they are in the original case which is marked as French made. Nice to have the period confirmed though, as with a lot of this, by the time it gets to you, there have been all sorts of stories attached to it and you cant be certain where it came from. My father-in-law used them for many years at the races, so he must of looked after them as optically they are perfect, and very little sign of wear and tear all round. I did find last night a reference to whats been called the double arrows on here as 'crows feet', is this the correct term? Regards Sean

Hi Sean

Never heared of them being called crows feet, it was a War Department issue"WD", and they were called Broad Arrows.

The case of the ones I have, were made by W SWART, dated 1917, they also have a H * and a WD mark,

Regards.
Gerwyn

#10 MikB

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 02:46 PM

This looks like a general service Binocular, Mk.V, introduced in 1902 according to 'Binoculars, Opera Glasses and Field Glasses' by Fred Watson (ISBN 0-7478-0292-0).

It was obviously a Galilean glass from its layout, and had a magnification of 4.5x.

Galilean glasses generally compared poorly with later prismatics (which typically ran from 6x to 8x) in magnification and field of view, though I notice yours seems to be engraved 'Wide'. They were still in wide use in WW1 for 2 main reasons: (i) there was a critical shortage of all types of optical instruments in the British Army, and (ii) they were useful at night and in poor light because of their smaller number of air/glass surfaces, large objective and modest magnification.

They also had good depth of field and tolerance of eyesight defects such as myopia. They can often be seen in WW1 photographs, sometimes in use alongside prismatics.

I wasn't quite sure how to interpret your reading of the other markings - if there's an S.3 P with a number, this would argue they were first sold out of service before WW1, then purchased back in as 'Specials, Grade 3' (high-grade Galilean) during the emergency of 1914-15. An 'S.<grade>' marking is a definite diagnostic of acceptance into service early in WW1.

Regards,
MikB

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 03:17 PM

This looks like a general service Binocular, Mk.V, introduced in 1902 according to 'Binoculars, Opera Glasses and Field Glasses' by Fred Watson (ISBN 0-7478-0292-0).

It was obviously a Galilean glass from its layout, and had a magnification of 4.5x.

Galilean glasses generally compared poorly with later prismatics (which typically ran from 6x to 8x) in magnification and field of view, though I notice yours seems to be engraved 'Wide'. They were still in wide use in WW1 for 2 main reasons: (i) there was a critical shortage of all types of optical instruments in the British Army, and (ii) they were useful at night and in poor light because of their smaller number number of air/glass surfaces, large objective and modest magnification.

They also had good depth of field and tolerance of eyesight defects such as myopia. They can often be seen in WW1 photographs, sometimes in use alongside prismatics.

I wasn't quite sure how to interpret your reading of the other markings - if there's an S.3 P with a number, this would argue they were first sold out of service before WW1, then purchased back in as 'Specials, Grade 3' (high-grade Galilean) during the emergency of 1914-15. An 'S.<grade>' marking is a definite diagnostic of acceptance into service early in WW1.

Regards,
MikB

Hi MikB

Thank you for the information

An S was a grade marking, they do have the cross arrow with a double stamp, to show they had been decommissioned and the case is stamped the same, I always thought this was only done after the war.

Regards.
Gerwyn

#12 billy_s

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 04:42 PM

Hi,

They were used in WW1, I have a pair, the double broad arrows facing each other, this was done to show that they were decommissioned from military use. I

Regards.
Gerwyn

Hi Gerwyn
I would have thought the opposite. My pair have had the marking deliberately filed out. I had assumed that this particular pair had been 'repatriated'by my grandfather or one of his brothers when they were discharged and that the removal of the marking was to ensure that they couldn't be identified as military issue.

On the left barrel there is a marker '1904' (year of manufacture?) just below where the markings had been filed out. On the right barrel there is the makers name 'Ross London' with the serial number 10465.

Cheers
Billy

#13 Andrew Upton

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 05:28 PM

I would have thought the opposite. My pair have had the marking deliberately filed out. I had assumed that this particular pair had been 'repatriated'by my grandfather or one of his brothers when they were discharged and that the removal of the marking was to ensure that they couldn't be identified as military issue.


Gerwyn is correct. As the /I\ denotes an item is Government/Military property, stamping or marking the /I\ again point-to-point with the original shows it has been legitimately* sold out of service.

*To a point - I have seen an original pair of binoculars were the second /I\ had been very crudely applied by hand, and looked like someone had attempted to replicate it for dishonest purposes.

#14 auchonvillerssomme

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 06:37 PM

These are my Ross 1905 dated Indian issue bino's with the 1904 dated medium size case. I got these from an nice old French gentleman, I often wonder about their journey to the Somme.

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#15 pioneercorps

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 07:20 PM

The makers name and date are stamped on the lid of mine, can't find a makers name on the binoculars?, got to say , what great condition yours are in.

#16 auchonvillerssomme

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 08:39 PM

Generally they aren't expensive and would make a good collection.

I think one of the reason that the sold out of service arrow looks scratched on is that the arrows are stamped close to the edge and there isn't room for a proper stamp. I will find an example of that on one of mine and post it tomorrow.

#17 THE SHINY SEVENTH

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 08:42 PM

Generally they aren't expensive and would make a good collection.


Even on e-bay, they seem to fetch quite modest sum's, and thats saying something! Sean

#18 MikB

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 11:09 PM

Generally they aren't expensive and would make a good collection.

I think one of the reason that the sold out of service arrow looks scratched on is that the arrows are stamped close to the edge and there isn't room for a proper stamp. I will find an example of that on one of mine and post it tomorrow.


On the OP's pair the arrows are engraved, not stamped. Engraving of markings by hand was a widely-held skill in domestic and military service as well as instrument-making at this period. Stamping requires strong support of not-very-substantial brass tubing and is practically impossible without disassembly - and in most cases the Broad Arrow was applied on military acceptance rather than during manufacture.

The Ross appears to have rotary-engraved markings, filled with white paint.

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#19 auchonvillerssomme

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 08:46 AM

This is a nice Crown Optical Company pair, with the poorly scratched or possibly engraved sold out of service arrow.

The Ross appears to have rotary-engraved markings, filled with white paint.

Regards,
MikB


Sorry I am misleading you, that is chalk I ran across them to bring them up for the camera.

Mick

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#20 MikB

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 10:18 AM

This is a nice Crown Optical Company pair, with the poorly scratched or possibly engraved sold out of service arrow.



Sorry I am misleading you, that is chalk I ran across them to bring them up for the camera.

Mick


I'm sorry, but the Woolwich inspectors didn't agree - the 'S.2' marking means "second-grade prismatics". These were civilian glasses taken into military service under the emergency provisions of 1914-15.

Mind you, I don't know what their criteria were; I have a dead posh, top-o'-the-range Negretti & Zambra stalking telescope in nickel silver with a 2 1/4" objective, a magnification that starts at 30x and a field of view bigger than the GS telescope, and they gave that an 'S.2' grade for some reason... :unsure:

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#21 Waddell

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 10:48 AM

I wasn't quite sure how to interpret your reading of the other markings - if there's an S.3 P with a number, this would argue they were first sold out of service before WW1, then purchased back in as 'Specials, Grade 3' (high-grade Galilean) during the emergency of 1914-15. An 'S.<grade>' marking is a definite diagnostic of acceptance into service early in WW1.



MikB

I am enjoying this thread! After reading the initial post and looking at the image of the binoculars I realised that they are very similar to a pair my Grandad (ex-RFC) gave me as a boy. I had never noticed the broad arrow or the engrqaving on the barrels. My binoculars were made by Lemaire of Paris and has the engraving S.3 22109.

Can I assume that these were an early service pair and that the number refers to a log that was made at some stage or a factory serial number?

Scott

#22 MikB

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 11:04 AM

MikB

I am enjoying this thread! After reading the initial post and looking at the image of the binoculars I realised that they are very similar to a pair my Grandad (ex-RFC) gave me as a boy. I had never noticed the broad arrow or the engrqaving on the barrels. My binoculars were made by Lemaire of Paris and has the engraving S.3 22109.

Can I assume that these were an early service pair and that the number refers to a log that was made at some stage or a factory serial number?

Scott

I'm not aware that Lemaire made Mk.IIIs - Vs for the British WD, and if they had they'd be factory-engraved as such. These were civilian glasses taken into service as 'high-grade Galilean' and given the Broad Arrow at that time. The number following the 'S.3' marking is the registration number given at the time they were accepted - there was an alleged intention to return donated instruments after the war, and if there isn't a '(P)' (=Procured or Purchased) after the 'S.3' they can be assumed to be donated.

I'd be interested to hear if anybody has evidence that this return ever happened. At the time the istruments were registered, no-one had any idea the war would be as long, bloody, chaotic and exhausting as it turned out, and I'm sceptical that many if any such instruments were ever returned to their original owners.

Regards,]
MikB

#23 Waddell

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 11:12 AM

I'm not aware that Lemaire made Mk.IIIs - Vs for the British WD, and if they had they'd be factory-engraved as such. These were civilian glasses taken into service as 'high-grade Galilean' and given the Broad Arrow at that time. The number following the 'S.3' marking is the registration number given at the time they were accepted - there was an alleged intention to return donated instruments after the war, and if there isn't a '(P)' (=Procured or Purchased) after the 'S.3' they can be assumed to be donated.



Thanks MikB.

I'm just happy to know that they were used in the war.

Scott

#24 THE SHINY SEVENTH

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 11:32 AM

Thanks MikB.

I'm just happy to know that they were used in the war.

Scott



Which was why I started the thread. And nice to have it confirmed by those more knowledgable on the subject. The only thing that confuses me is why my wifes Grandfather, who was a Pte in the Rifle Brigade who subsequently gets a Blighty for a GSW, had these binoculars in the first place? But, being married to her for long enough to have an intimate knowledge of her family, there is every reason for me to believe that he nicked them :whistle: . Bless him, Sean

#25 khaki

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 12:05 PM

Which was why I started the thread. And nice to have it confirmed by those more knowledgeable on the subject. The only thing that confuses me is why my wife's Grandfather, who was a Pte in the Rifle Brigade who subsequently gets a Blighty for a GSW, had these binoculars in the first place? But, being married to her for long enough to have an intimate knowledge of her family, there is every reason for me to believe that he nicked them :whistle: . Bless him, Sean


He may have traded for them, the trade of souvenirs was very brisk, he also may have purchased them post war (I think you mentioned the races). I recall asking my father about all the military things we had around our home, mess cans, tools etc, expecting tales of martial glory, I was a very deflated seven year old when he said," Nah, I bought it at a surplus store in the city after the war, they had mountains of stuff"
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