Posted 12 February 2013 - 01:12 AM
Well, there has been a lot of idle speculation, but I agree with Matt and Peter (who own three Garden Telescopes between them) that it likely was made by Don Patch or another Springfield ATM from castings left over at J&L after they stopped trying to sell them. They were quite expensive for the 1920's, half the cost of a decent auto, and the market just wasn't there, so they stopped making them relatively soon.
As far as the "new looking" patina, it's consistent with what they look like when stored away in boxes rather than outside. The main part of mine (#46) looks dark green, but the finish of my optics set looks very similar to this one after having been put away in the accessory box after use.
Also, as far as the apparent long focal length goes, remember that it was shown in the auction with the secondary further away, on the wrong side. My scaling of the image put it around f/4 if it were assembled correctly, though there's no reason it needed to be f/4 if a new mirror was made, especially if the straight stalk holding the secondary was also made by the ATM constructing it, as seems likely.
Appraisers like to start with comparable sales, but there haven't been many sold, so it's hard to come up with an accurate number. I agree that on any given day something is worth what someone is willing to pay for it, and an auction is as good a way as any to get a feel for the value, much more so than what someone not involved "thinks" it's worth. Rarity and historic "worth" often aren't related to price. I've been to auctions where old dolls made in the many hundreds early in the 20th century command $30K or more, and extremely rare and significant things sometimes sell cheaply. As has been said, if there are more buyers than sellers, the price will reflect it. This sale seems to have had 6 bidders willing to pay more than $2650, none of whom look like shills based on their feedback, etc. Also, despite the repros selling at varying higher prices, as far as I know (and I've been following them for 25 years or more), none of the originals has even sold for $25K. I also haven't known of any offered in the high hundreds since 1972, when I first started going to Stellafane. I'd have sold my car and hitchhiked back home.
I sure hope it was bought by someone we know, so we might all learn more about it!