Ribright, Thomas, 1780 c.
Louwman Collection of Historic Telescopes Arrow right Arrow left

photo - whole telescope
Basic Info

Maker: Ribright, Thomas

Year: 1780 c.

Year Range: -

Year Notes:

Manufacturing Location: England


Signature Notes:


No stand present.

Collection: Louwman Collection of Historic Telescopes

Accession #: LC 223


Cocquyt, Tiemen. "400 Years of Telescopes" booklet, Zeeuws Museum, 2008. Item 42.

Louwman, P.J.K., and Zuidervaart, H.J., "A Certain Instrument for Seeing Far: Four Centuries of Styling the Telescope Illustrated by a Selection of Treasures from the Louwman Collection of Historic Telescopes". Wassenaar, 2013. p.169. #223.

Public Notes:

"English gilt-brass presentation telescope and stand, with writing accessories. Engraved overall with floral trellis and garlands. Telescope mounted with garlands and acanthus clasp on four foliate wrapped S-shaped supports above a square base and platform, fitted with a drawer. Unsigned. Measurements of the object: length 10.5 cm, width 10 cm, height 14 cm. Measurements of the telescope: length 14 cm, Ø 3 cm. Made in the early 1780s.

This telescopic object has been recovered in the years 1994-1996 from the shipwreck of the vessel ‘Hartwell’, the largest ship of her kind in the service of the British East India Company . She carried cargo destined for the Chinese imperial court in Beijing. After a mutiny on her maiden voyage, the Hartwell wrecked on 24 May 1787 at one of the Cape Verdian islands. Among others, the ship was laden with 320,000 Spanish coins and more than 200,000 troy ounces (= 6,500 kg) of silver.

In 1993, permission was granted to salvage its cargo. This was carried out in accordance with accepted archaeological principles, with a minimum disturbance to the site. The excavation continued until 1996. A year later many objects, including this exquisite telescope, were sold in auction in an Amsterdam sale. Thanks to its gold layer, the telescope has been preserved very well during two centuries in the salt water. Only the lenses are eroded by the seawater. Even a gilded pencil and a thin cylindrical container with cap (for the storage of medicines or spices) have been preserved in a drawer in the base of the telescope. This unique presentation gift for the Chinese emperor is made in the style of the late jeweller and optician Thomas Ribright (d. 1772), whose workshop was continued in the early 1780s by his son George (died ca. 1783) and grandson Thomas Ribright (w. 1783-1806). After the death of his father George, the latter formed a partnership with another instrument maker, under the company name ‘Ribright and Smith’. Presumably this workshop, which was operational only in the years 1783-1784, is responsible for the construction of this unique device" (Louwman and Zuidervaart, 2013).

Length (open):

Length (closed): 140


Exit pupil:

Object status:

Optical Basics

Objective type: singlet

Optical style

Physical style spyglass

Functional style

Materials: brass, gilt

Optical/Lab Data

Drawtube data:

Drawtube notes:

Objective Data