For sale, a George III three draw telescope by Cesar Tagliabue, London
Comprised of three draws and a beautifully figured mahogany barrel, the telescope has a one and three quarter inch objective lens and measures 25cms closed and 74cms when fully extended. Maintaining a fine focus, it has a typical flat eyepiece for the period with protective dust slide. It no longer has an objective dust cap but maintains its original case which is included for completeness. The case has some issues with loose stitching to the top piece and some ware to the main body but has served its purpose well in protecting the fine instrument that it was intended to hold.
The maker Cesar Tagliabue is somewhat unrecognised now but has a significant part to play in the history of scientific instrument manufacture. Like many makers of this period of Italian birth, Tagliabue hailed from the Como region of Italy. Born in 1767, it is unclear when he arrived in Britain but is considered to have begun trading in Holborn, London in 1799 with a partner Anthony Della Torre until 1806 whereafter he traded under his own name. By 1820, Tagliabue had moved to the famous London centre of scientific instrument making at Hatton Garden and took on a young Louis Casella as an apprentice. The name Casella is now synonymous with the history of the industry and after marrying Tagliabue’s daughter in 1837, went on to form the partnership of Tagliabue and Casella with his new father in law in 1838. Tagliabue was already known to have been exporting his products to South America and Europe and must have provided Casella with a perfect grounding in both instrument making and more importantly in the business of selling them.
It is somewhat strange that this partnership should ever had existed given that Cesar is known to have had three sons, John, Anthony & Angelo but presumably his focus was on providing his daughter and her husband an equally good opportunity in life. The numerous Tagliabue’s listed in trade directories of the period would suggest that the family remained close knit in any case and the son John also went on to form an early partnership with the world renowned Joseph Zambra prior to the latter’s more famous partnership with Henry Negretti in 1850.
Cesar Tagliabue eventually died in 1844 leaving the business to be solely managed by his son in law Louis Casella and the under his long stewardship became one of the most renowned scientific instrument making firms of the nineteenth century, rivals to Negretti & Zambra and providing products to the likes of Darwin and Livingstone. Casella’s sons, Louis Marino and Charles Frederick joined the business and worked with their father until his eventual death in 1897 whereafter Charles took over the sole ownership of the company. They are one of the few companies of this period that still remain in existence today although the focus of the business has diversified into environmental sampling and monitoring products.
This wonderful telescope hails from the earliest history of this famous company being manufactured during Tagliabue’s sole trading period between 1806 and 1838. Instruments signed to Tagliabue are rare and although somewhat unassuming, this instrument tells the story of an Italian family that had significant links with both Casella and Negretti & Zambra, perhaps the two most influential scientific making companies of the nineteenth century. The Tagliabue’s importance to this story is sadly underrated.