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

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#26 tim53

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Posted 27 August 2020 - 05:27 PM

The makers of my ~1760 Watkins & Smith might beg to differ, if they were still above ground.

 

-Tim.



#27 CHASLX200

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Posted 27 August 2020 - 05:57 PM

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.

Seems the big time sellers were the RV6 in the 60's and 70's.  Then the C8 came along and did all the other scope makers in about 1973. Then Meade came into the game and was getting to be a big seller by 1980.  Seems the real hopping times for big sales were from Meade and Celestron in the 80's and 90's.


Edited by CHASLX200, 27 August 2020 - 05:58 PM.

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#28 luxo II

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Posted 28 August 2020 - 05:05 AM

A few of Russell Porters “garden telescopes” from the 1920s survive , gorgeous things... and reproductions were made more recently. They were - like Questars - a wealthy mans toy as the castings were expensive even then, you needed a safe garden (or it would be stolen by local kids) and you had to have the time, education and skills to make your own mirrors. Only a few did.

The combination of the postwar industrial changes in optical manufacturing, combined with popular demand fuelled by the popularisation of the space race (Sputnik, the Moonwatch programme, international geophysical years, the Apollo program and the moon landings, Halleys Comet and the impact of comet Shoemaker-Levy on Jupiter were all major events linked to important aspects of basic science education in schools. Landing on Mars (that settled the question - no little green men), and Voyagers 1 and II exploring the solar system to finish off the 20th century.

In addition, magazines like Scientific American were on the stand in every local magazine store as well as school libraries - I avidly devoured the Amateur Scientist pages from an early age. Yet that column disappeared, as has the magazine, lost in the vast ocean of digital garbage on the interwebs.

One of the most important aspects of science is being able to do simple experiments yourself, to confirm whether you got it right, or not. Astronomy is very much underestimated in this respect IMHO as the “laboratory” is open to all, every night, the equipment needed for many good experiments is simple, yet astonishing things can be demonstrated with no more than high school maths and a pencil and paper.

The lack of interest in astronomy from younger generations is imho largely due to there being no large-scale programs that really engage or capture the public’s attention so much. Moon - been there, done that. Mars - no one there. We know what happened to the dinosaurs, without any doubt. The rest of the planets - we’ve nailed them too. Interstellar communications and travel - not going to happen.

So here we are stuck on our little planet and making a mess of it, and unable to terraform the Sahara or Nullarbor - never mind Mars.

Edited by luxo II, 28 August 2020 - 05:35 AM.

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#29 Terra Nova

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Posted 28 August 2020 - 07:20 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? 

Tom K. bought em! :lol:


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#30 steve t

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Posted 28 August 2020 - 07:24 AM

Tom K. bought em! lol.gif

funnypost.gif 


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#31 steve t

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Posted 28 August 2020 - 07:31 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.

Sad, but probably true.

 

There is a large Newtonian, on display, at the Garst Museum in Greenville, OH that looks like an ATM scope. Sadly no one there seems to know anything about its history.


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#32 steve t

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Posted 28 August 2020 - 07:38 AM

I recall the Cincinnati observatory has a beautiful Porter Garden scope on display in the main building. I've wondered if it would be possible to get it back into working condition and bring it out for special occasions (with the proper security measuressmile.gif)  


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#33 Bomber Bob

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Posted 28 August 2020 - 09:28 AM

It would be interesting to break it up in to decades, and compare the number of companies advertising in S&T...

1955-1965
1965-1975
1975-1985
1985-1995

That pretty much covers the Classic time period.

 

I didn't enter the hobby until 1969, so my perspective is somewhat limited.  But, I know that by 1972, small scopes from Japan were plentiful & affordable -- just about every Dept Store sold scopes, including Kmart.  I was a kid growing up in the stix.  Our Sears was a Catalog Store until ~ 1974.  Yet, my parents supplied me with 60mm AZ & 60mm EQ refractors.  When I visited my "richer" cousins in Atlanta, I saw that amateurs over there had a larger variety (including my Uncle's Unitron).  Like Guido & others, I'm grateful to Sears.  I'm pretty sure both my 60s were Yamamoto (wish I'd kept them!)...

 

Thanks to Sky & Telescope, and Astronomy magazines, I was aware that demand ebbed & flowed, and the types & brands changed -- sometimes quickly!  Like y'all, I saw companies pop up, peak, and disappear.  So yeah, my gut answer is that the 1960s had to be a Boom in scope sales.  I'm just not sure how big that boom was compared to other time periods.


Edited by Bomber Bob, 28 August 2020 - 10:33 AM.

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#34 John Higbee

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Posted 28 August 2020 - 09:30 AM

This is very good on the growth of amateur astronomy:

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

 

Robert

Couldn't agree more on this, Robert!   Haven't found another compilation of data like this anywhere else.  John


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#35 Bomber Bob

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Posted 28 August 2020 - 10:35 AM

This is very good on the growth of amateur astronomy:

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

 

Robert

Thanks Robert -- I read & archived that PDF a while back; and, of course, forgot about it...


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#36 oldmanastro

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Posted 28 August 2020 - 11:13 AM

It would be interesting to break it up in to decades, and compare the number of companies advertising in S&T...

1955-1965
1965-1975
1975-1985
1985-1995

That pretty much covers the Classic time period.

 

I didn't enter the hobby until 1969, so my perspective is somewhat limited.  But, I know that by 1972, small scopes from Japan were plentiful & affordable -- just about every Dept Store sold scopes, including Kmart.  I was a kid growing up in the stix.  Our Sears was a Catalog Store until ~ 1974.  Yet, my parents supplied me with 60mm AZ & 60mm EQ refractors.  When I visited my "richer" cousins in Atlanta, I saw that amateurs over there had a larger variety (including my Uncle's Unitron).  Like Guido & others, I'm grateful to Sears.  I'm pretty sure both my 60s were Yamamoto (wish I'd kept them!)...

 

Thanks to Sky & Telescope, and Astronomy magazines, I was aware that demand ebbed & flowed, and the types & brands changed -- sometimes quickly!  Like y'all, I saw companies pop up, peak, and disappear.  So yeah, my gut answer is that the 1960s had to be a Boom in scope sales.  I'm just not sure how big that boom was compared to other time periods.

So am I. Without Sears I would have never entered amateur astronomy. My 1965 60mm AZ from Sears was the key. The book and The Review of Popular Astronomy (RPA) subscription included in the package  connected me to CONUS amateur astronomy. At that time amateur astronomy here was nearly zero. I am sure that dept store telescopes gave a big boost to telescope sales and  amateur astronomy in the 60s.


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#37 John Rogers

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Posted 16 September 2020 - 09:03 AM

Here is a circa mid-1940s 3.5" Sky Scope next to a Edmund 3" Space Conqueror.  The Space Conqueror first made its appearance as a kit from Edmund in the mid-1950s.

 

I should note that the Sky Scope mount appears flimsy, but in reality is steadier than the Edmund.

 

Circa_1940s_SkyScope.JPG

 


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#38 photoracer18

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Posted 18 September 2020 - 03:57 PM

My first telescope was the Edmund 3" Space Conqueror I got for Christmas in 1957 or 58. My Dad paid $29.95 if I remember correctly. Funky mount and microscope sized eyepieces but lunar views were amazing. Upgraded focuser, eyepieces and mount over the next few years. Then got to use the RV-6 my JHS had and bought my own when I was a junior in HS. Made a tangent arm DEC slow-motion apparatus for it before my senior year. Great stuff in those days.


Edited by photoracer18, 18 September 2020 - 03:59 PM.

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#39 highfnum

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Posted 19 September 2020 - 06:55 AM

same story as rest of economy

after WWII  Americans had some extra cash on hand 

by 1950's thing were humming and a middle class had ability to buy some non required stuff

then the space race gave a real kick

 

there were scopes sold before WWII but a lot less of them and mostly for upper class

a ten year depression did not help matters

unless you made one yourself (porter ATM books 1920's)

 

Scopes started to sell in 1700's

Dollond , Short ,Bates  in England

they could be a few months working man's salary 

 

in 1800's small batches of scopes were made by US Mnfg for general public   - alvin clark ...etc 

 

but in some sense your correct 

1960's relative cost of scopes went down

a process that IMHO still continues

think of maks you had one choice questar

then Meade came out then orion 

i have a 7 inch mak  when  back in 50 60's  that would be  totally out of my league


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