A mid-Victorian single draw “Day & Night” presentation telescope by J Sewill of Liverpool & London. Maker’s to the Admiralty.
This superb brass telescope has a large 41.5 cm single draw and an overall extended length of 90cms. It maintains its original leather covering to the barrel, protective brass slide to the eyepiece and extending sun shade to the end. The sun shade is engraved with the following detail, “The Langton Prize for proficiency in navigation. Presented to Henry Gordon Cumming. June 1875”.
There remains little detail regarding the Langton Prize but it would presumably have been created in remembrance of some famous previous scholar at the school or marine training college from which it was awarded. The recipient is likewise difficult to track down but the surname of Gordon-Cumming is very closely related to the Baccarat scandal involving the Royal Family in the early twentieth century. I cannot confirm any relation to this family at present but further research may add some clarity. The date of the prize does however match with the dates for which the company, J. Sewill were trading at the addresses on the draw tube. Written from left to right towards the eyepiece, the engraving reads. “J. Sewill, 61 South Castle Street, Liverpool & 30 Cornhill, London. Makers to the Admiralty. Day & Night”.
The company was formed in 1837 in Liverpool by Joseph Sewill and they were renowned makers of scientific instruments. They traded from two previous addresses in Liverpool before trading from 61 South Castle Street from 1841 – 1895. The company was by this time large enough to consider further premises in both Glasgow and London and his sons were given the task of managing the new concerns. His son Frank ran the Glasgow store from 1878 to 1891 and John opened the London premises at Cornhill in 1875, the date in which this telescope was engraved. They are likely to have received the accolade of Makers to the Admiralty for their endeavours in the manufacture of chronometers. Their pieces won the Greenwich trials in 1867 and were previously awarded for their services to Horology at the Paris Exhibition of 1862.
A superb telescope by a very renowned maker and with a fascinating inscription worthy of some further research.