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Pretty clear major scope sales didn't happen until 1960's

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#1 RichA

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 08:46 PM

There are, except perhaps from Questar, very few scopes that come from before the 1960's.  Which probably indicates in relation to income, scopes were very expensive before  then.  Either that, or all the cheapo scopes were simply sent to the dump.  But, there are plenty of scopes from the 1960's onward on the used market.

 



#2 ccwemyss

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 08:56 PM

Unitrons were introduced in the early 50's and sold well through that time. There are a good number of Tascos, and others from the late 50's. But sales did pick up after the space race got going. 

 

Chip W.


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#3 clamchip

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 09:01 PM

Yes probably really took off after Sputnik and then the International Geophysical

year 1958.

I can date Edmund telescopes pretty accurately and I see a fair number starting

around 1958.

 

Robert


Edited by clamchip, 26 August 2020 - 09:12 PM.

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#4 Mitrovarr

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 09:10 PM

There was some commercial stuff before then but a lot of it was ATM'd or made from leftover military stuff.


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#5 scngc7317

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 09:18 PM

I think this guy was a little ahead of his time gramps.gif
 
1958
A fork mount
A 16" F-8 scope
Belt drive turning 24" worm drives on both axis
Rotating rings on main tube                
 
griffith
 
classified

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#6 starman876

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 09:21 PM

Unitrons were introduced in the early 50's and sold well through that time. There are a good number of Tascos, and others from the late 50's. But sales did pick up after the space race got going. 

 

Chip W.

So if Unitrons started in the early 50's there must have been other commercial scopes out there.  To name a few lets start with Zeiss, Nippon,  Busch, Clark, Tinsley, J.W. Fecker Inc., Brandon,  were just a few that were selling scopes to amateurs long before the 50's.   I am sure in a short while we can come up with lots more. 


Edited by starman876, 26 August 2020 - 09:26 PM.

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#7 Mitrovarr

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 09:23 PM

When did Criterion and Edmund Scientific get into the game? They might predate the 60s.

 

Oh, and Sears.


Edited by Mitrovarr, 26 August 2020 - 09:24 PM.


#8 clamchip

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 09:29 PM

Here's a look at amateur telescopes through the decades:

http://www.philharri...n.net/old70.htm

 

Robert


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#9 oldmanastro

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 09:50 PM

The "Sputnik Scare" and the resulting major push for science education in the US coupled to the space race produced more interest in astronomy than ever. This must have been a primary reason catapulting telescope sales from the late 50s onward. There's also the invasion of the market by Japanese made telescopes sold under many brand names like Mayflower, Sears, Scope, Tasco, Lafayette, Swift. Monolux, etc. A lot of these telescope were offered at affordable prices and were good enough for the purpose. Some, as we know, were excellent. The upper end market represented by Unitron, Questar, Cave, Astrola and others also benefited from public interest in space. I guess that this lasted until 1969. The moon landing basically ended the space race. Then in 1985 there was another peak related to comet Halley. The market has probably stabilized since then.

 

Guido


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#10 starman876

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 10:38 PM

Here's a look at amateur telescopes through the decades:

http://www.philharri...n.net/old70.htm

 

Robert

I used that as a reference for my post.   I wish I had old copies of Sky and telescope.  I have a couple from the 50's and there are a lot of scopes advertised.  I think ever since the invention of the telescope there have been telescope manufacturers.  Look at the brass scope I have from the early 1800's. There were always telescopes for sale in one form or another.


Edited by starman876, 26 August 2020 - 10:39 PM.

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#11 Kasmos

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Posted 27 August 2020 - 01:59 AM

While things really took off in the 60s, there's been a ton of scopes posted here in the Classic Forum that are from the 50s

I have several myself and I have nothing compared to some other folks.

 

1959-61 era Crescent/Towa

1958-59 Tasco (pre-7TE) 227x

1958 Goto Hy-Score

(2)1958 Bushnell Sky Chiefs

1957-58 Unitron 114

1950s Soligor

 

Except for the Goto which came with paperwork, dates are approx. based on design features and the maker's changes to them.


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#12 John Higbee

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Posted 27 August 2020 - 04:06 AM

Cave began manufacturing Newtonians in the early 50s...think the oldest Cave in Jon Miles' Cave listing on CN is circa 1951/52. 

 

Tinsley manufactured refractors (which eventually became the Saturn line) starting well before WWII.

 

John


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#13 clamchip

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Posted 27 August 2020 - 04:13 AM

Here's more ads:

http://www.astrosurf.com/re/adds.html

 

Robert


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#14 CHASLX200

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Posted 27 August 2020 - 05:41 AM

The Newts were selling from a few comps before 1960.  Cave, Trekor, Starliner, OC, and some others brother like Dynascope.


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#15 Terra Nova

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Posted 27 August 2020 - 07:32 AM

So if Unitrons started in the early 50's there must have been other commercial scopes out there.  To name a few lets start with Zeiss, Nippon,  Busch, Clark, Tinsley, J.W. Fecker Inc., Brandon,  were just a few that were selling scopes to amateurs long before the 50's.   I am sure in a short while we can come up with lots more. 

I think the operative words in the O.P.’s premise are “major scope sales.” Makers like Zeiss, Busch, Clark, Tinsley, J.W. Fecker Inc., B&L made and sold scopes to be sure, but they were really only affordable to the wealthy. Mogey made some less expensive scopes but still the 1930s were the years of the Great Depression which really didn’t end until we were in WWII and then there was rationing, scrap drives, metal shortages, and things were still pretty austere. This of course was the heyday of the Amateur Telescope Maker and those that could make do, did. I think things changed with the economic boom that took place following WWII which occurred at the same time that Japan and it’s industries were being rebuilt and affordable import optics hit US shores. And then, as Robert (Clamchip) acknowledged, the Space Race hit in 1957-58 and things really took off so to speak.


Edited by Terra Nova, 27 August 2020 - 07:33 AM.

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#16 starman876

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Posted 27 August 2020 - 08:20 AM

I think the operative words in the O.P.’s premise are “major scope sales.” Makers like Zeiss, Busch, Clark, Tinsley, J.W. Fecker Inc., B&L made and sold scopes to be sure, but they were really only affordable to the wealthy. Mogey made some less expensive scopes but still the 1930s were the years of the Great Depression which really didn’t end until we were in WWII and then there was rationing, scrap drives, metal shortages, and things were still pretty austere. This of course was the heyday of the Amateur Telescope Maker and those that could make do, did. I think things changed with the economic boom that took place following WWII which occurred at the same time that Japan and it’s industries were being rebuilt and affordable import optics hit US shores. And then, as Robert (Clamchip) acknowledged, the Space Race hit in 1957-58 and things really took off so to speak.

Not so sure i can aggree with all you said.  If we do enough research looking back through Sky and telescope ads I am sure we will find plenty of affordable telescopes that were for sale.   



#17 starman876

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Posted 27 August 2020 - 08:35 AM

I think the operative words in the O.P.’s premise are “major scope sales.” Makers like Zeiss, Busch, Clark, Tinsley, J.W. Fecker Inc., B&L made and sold scopes to be sure, but they were really only affordable to the wealthy. Mogey made some less expensive scopes but still the 1930s were the years of the Great Depression which really didn’t end until we were in WWII and then there was rationing, scrap drives, metal shortages, and things were still pretty austere. This of course was the heyday of the Amateur Telescope Maker and those that could make do, did. I think things changed with the economic boom that took place following WWII which occurred at the same time that Japan and it’s industries were being rebuilt and affordable import optics hit US shores. And then, as Robert (Clamchip) acknowledged, the Space Race hit in 1957-58 and things really took off so to speak.

https://wiki.telesco...m/wiki/Catalogs

 

here is a pretty good list of manufacturers.   Not sure the age of them, but I bet we all will have fun going through them. 


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#18 starman876

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Posted 27 August 2020 - 08:48 AM

http://www.philharri...n.net/old50.htm

 

I would adjust the statement that the telescope boom started in the 50's   That is what it looks like to me.  Just my opinion.  


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#19 oldmanastro

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Posted 27 August 2020 - 09:00 AM

We may add that Japanese imported telescopes became widely available through dept. stores sales in the late 50s and early 60s. As an example, the 1965 Sears catalog lists 4 astronomical telescopes and 3 terrestrial telescopes. All are of Japanese manufacture mainly Towa and some Astro Optical. People who were now interested in space and astronomy but didn't even know about amateur astronomy suddenly found these scopes in their favorite store. The were not only affordable  but you could buy them with the Sears credit card. That must have contributed to a significant increase in telescope sales to the general public.


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#20 clamchip

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Posted 27 August 2020 - 09:05 AM

This is very good on the growth of amateur astronomy:

https://lib.dr.iasta...773&context=etd

 

Robert


Edited by clamchip, 27 August 2020 - 09:07 AM.

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#21 starman876

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Posted 27 August 2020 - 09:08 AM

This is very good on the growth of amateur astronomy:

https://lib.dr.iasta...773&context=etd

 

Robert

I would have to correct that thesis if I was the professor grin.gif



#22 steve t

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Posted 27 August 2020 - 10:23 AM

When flipping through the pages of my, old three volumes, "Amateur Telescope Making," I've wondered what ever happened to some of those ATM scopes from the 20's and 30's? 


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#23 Mitrovarr

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Posted 27 August 2020 - 10:29 AM

Probably a lot of them fell to bits from failures of the materials used (wood rot, etc.) and others were discarded when they got into the hands of non-astronomers who would not recognize them as valuable due to their frequently kludged-up appearance.

Also any of them that were mirror based probably tarnished into uselessness and again, got thrown away.

A few probably survive as museum pieces or in attics.
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#24 Scott99

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Posted 27 August 2020 - 02:59 PM

Here's a look at amateur telescopes through the decades:

http://www.philharri...n.net/old70.htm

 

Robert

Thanks - interesting page!  I keep going back to the 20's...things looked interesting then.  Zeiss had a huge catalog of offerings too.  

 

Living habits were different back then as more people, probably most people, lived in apartments in the cities.  Either that or a farm and most farm workers probably didn't have a lot to spend on telescopes.  

 

After WWII you had large numbers of people moving to houses in the suburbs with yards, it must have been more practical to use a scope there versus in the city with stairways and no nearby yard space.  


Edited by Scott99, 27 August 2020 - 03:00 PM.

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#25 Kasmos

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Posted 27 August 2020 - 03:48 PM

While it definitely boomed in the 60s there were plenty of 60mm refractors sold in the 50s. Names such as, Unitron, Monolux, Asahi Pentax, Tasco, Selsi, Sans & Sreiffe, Bushnell, ATCO, Lafayette, SPI, plus many lesser known names selling Towas.


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