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Meade GEM from Late 1970's

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#1 earlyriser

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Posted 29 March 2021 - 08:15 AM

I came across the attached advertisement for a Meade 4" f/15 refractor while reading a copy of the May 1977 issue of Astronomy.  The description of the mount in particular caught my attention.  I've never seen one of these mounts in person, but it sounds like a pretty nice setup.  Is anyone familiar with this mount or telescope, and if so, what do you think of it? 

 

Meade Mount Small.jpg


Edited by earlyriser, 29 March 2021 - 08:58 AM.

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#2 dgreyson

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Posted 29 March 2021 - 08:56 AM

No, but I like it a lot. If the model as shown is $1175.00 then if you could find one today for $5251.71 you'll be getting it for Meads original price. We were in between the end of the 1975 recession and the start of the 1980 recession so there should be a fair few examples still floating around in the wild id guess.

#3 Terra Nova

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Posted 29 March 2021 - 09:50 AM

That’s a gorgeous scope! The mount is definitely Nihon-Seiko (Unitron/Polarex). Unfortunately as a newly minted PhD on a modest first year Assistant Professor’s salary, there would have been no way that I could have afforded a full month’s gross wages for such a jewel.


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#4 dgreyson

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Posted 29 March 2021 - 10:44 AM

That used 73 AMC Gremlin with the luggage rack sounds like a bargain now.  I could have bought this scope for 9 months salary but gasoline had gone through the roof and I had missed seeing the ad at the time anyway. I was grinding my own mirror having given up commercial models over sticker shock at scope prices then.  Good thing I missed seeing it I expect.


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#5 earlyriser

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Posted 29 March 2021 - 12:05 PM

It might has well have been a million dollars back then - I couldn't have afforded it.  I doubt there were many sold, and even fewer still out there collecting photons, but I'd love to see one.  


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#6 tim53

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Posted 29 March 2021 - 03:15 PM

That particular telescope was in the showroom at Meade when I worked there in 1978-79.  It was very expensive, and never sold while I was there.  It turned up here several years ago, in an ad from Orange County.  It had been horribly mistreated and was barely salvageable, in several boxes.  I think the objective might have been cracked, as well.  I don't remember what happened to it.  The seller wanted too much for it considering the condition.  I hope it was saved and restored, but considering I also don't remember seeing any mention of that, I have my doubts that it was.

 

Caveat.  I've forgotten more than most people ever learn in a lifetime, so I could be wrong at several points in the recounting above.  grin.gif


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#7 CHASLX200

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Posted 29 March 2021 - 06:04 PM

Very rare scope. I don't think many were made. Just a updated Unitron.



#8 starman876

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Posted 30 March 2021 - 06:45 AM

I came across the attached advertisement for a Meade 4" f/15 refractor while reading a copy of the May 1977 issue of Astronomy.  The description of the mount in particular caught my attention.  I've never seen one of these mounts in person, but it sounds like a pretty nice setup.  Is anyone familiar with this mount or telescope, and if so, what do you think of it? 

 

attachicon.gifMeade Mount Small.jpg

I do recall some years back someone here stating they had one and  had pictures posted.


Edited by starman876, 30 March 2021 - 06:45 AM.


#9 dgreyson

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Posted 31 March 2021 - 10:15 AM

That particular telescope was in the showroom at Meade when I worked there in 1978-79.  It was very expensive, and never sold while I was there. 

Tim, what was Meades inventory practice then? Wouldn't they have five or ten boxed scopes in the back they would bring out for a sale or was it just the one showroom model at a time they'd re-box if it sold?  I'm assuming they imported goods from Japan via ship so maybe they brought over at least a couple dozen to sell.  I'm hoping there are  more than just one specimen, sold mail order rather than showroom direct. Or, Maybe all of them are still sitting in pristine condition boxed in that warehouse next to the Ark of the Covenent.  Or not.  One can hope.  I hate to think the only one there was has ended  trashed like that.


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#10 Bomber Bob

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Posted 31 March 2021 - 10:20 AM

I do recall some years back someone here stating they had one and  had pictures posted.

CNer jae's photos from 2006:

 

Meade Model 447 (Jae) 2006 P02.jpg Meade Model 447 (Jae) 2006 P04.jpg Meade Model 447 (Jae) 2006 P06.jpg

 

Yep!  Circle T (T) on the focuser!


Edited by Bomber Bob, 31 March 2021 - 10:20 AM.

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#11 CHASLX200

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Posted 31 March 2021 - 06:13 PM

Tim, what was Meades inventory practice then? Wouldn't they have five or ten boxed scopes in the back they would bring out for a sale or was it just the one showroom model at a time they'd re-box if it sold?  I'm assuming they imported goods from Japan via ship so maybe they brought over at least a couple dozen to sell.  I'm hoping there are  more than just one specimen, sold mail order rather than showroom direct. Or, Maybe all of them are still sitting in pristine condition boxed in that warehouse next to the Ark of the Covenent.  Or not.  One can hope.  I hate to think the only one there was has ended  trashed like that.

Anything i would order from Meade in 1977 got to me in FL in less than a week. That was when Meade was Meade not the Meade we knew later on with the bad 7" ED's.


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#12 starman876

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Posted 31 March 2021 - 06:19 PM

CNer jae's photos from 2006:

 

attachicon.gifMeade Model 447 (Jae) 2006 P02.jpgattachicon.gifMeade Model 447 (Jae) 2006 P04.jpgattachicon.gifMeade Model 447 (Jae) 2006 P06.jpg

 

Yep!  Circle T (T) on the focuser!

I think I have one of those focusers on a ATM scope.  Was wondering where it came from.  No writing on the focuser.  Wonder who sold them?  Rather robust focuser. 


Edited by starman876, 31 March 2021 - 06:20 PM.


#13 John Rose

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Posted 31 March 2021 - 07:15 PM

My understanding is they were bought from the same manufacturer who supplied Unitron. Just a name change.  Like so many of the Japanese telescopes. And like Chinese scopes today. I do have one of those mounts.  Not in very good condition. It does have the clock drive, but not the mounting ring that mounts on. Unfortunately the declination drive gear has been damaged so there is a rough area when turning the declination slow motion control. It is also missing the long slow motion cables, tripod spreader  and the cradle.  I am not really surprised with the "Circle T" on the focuser in the photograph.  The manufacturer may have contracted that out. My incomplete 8" Cave Cass/Newt has a Unitron (so labeled) focuser for the cassegrain position and a Unitron finder. There is another refractor which I think was made by Brandon that used a "Unitron" focuser.  


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#14 luxo II

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Posted 31 March 2021 - 09:02 PM

In the 70’s quite a few parts for DIY newtonians were sold with the Unitron label - I had 3 focusers and a couple of finderscopes and some other parts.

There were two rack & pinion focusers - a small 0.965” one for 4”...6” scopes, and a larger one for 8” and up; these had a cast curved base to match the usual OTA sizes of the period up to 12”.

The larger focuser was quite good - it had a decent sliding drawtube and could take 0.965” or 1.25” eyepieces.

I don’t have a catalog anymore from that era, but from memory a couple of the Unitron mounts and many of the parts were available separately at the local astro shop (which has long since closed).

It was fairly common to find the astrophotography types were using 8”...12” newtonians with a 75mm Unitron refractor on the side as the guide scope.

Edited by luxo II, 31 March 2021 - 09:06 PM.


#15 starman876

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Posted 31 March 2021 - 10:13 PM

Unitron also sold the Satellite scope as a plain black finder.



#16 tim53

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 11:33 AM

Tim, what was Meades inventory practice then? Wouldn't they have five or ten boxed scopes in the back they would bring out for a sale or was it just the one showroom model at a time they'd re-box if it sold?  I'm assuming they imported goods from Japan via ship so maybe they brought over at least a couple dozen to sell.  I'm hoping there are  more than just one specimen, sold mail order rather than showroom direct. Or, Maybe all of them are still sitting in pristine condition boxed in that warehouse next to the Ark of the Covenent.  Or not.  One can hope.  I hate to think the only one there was has ended  trashed like that.

I think the one in the showroom was the only one they had in the shop/storefront in Costa Mesa in 1979.  If they sold any others, it would likely have been shipped directly from Japan to the buyer.  They didn't really have the room to keep an inventory of scopes.  Before 1978, when they started making the 628s and 826s, Meade was a mail-order importer.

 

-tim.


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#17 dgreyson

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 11:56 AM

I think the one in the showroom was the only one they had in the shop/storefront in Costa Mesa in 1979.  .... Meade was a mail-order importer..

So we know of at least two of these scopes, one trashed and one usable.  That means there are likely at least a minimum of four or five more of these out there somewhere waiting to be found at a wild guess.  If I had a decent scope id be using it rather than wanting to sell it so chances are we wont see them in the classifieds any time soon.


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#18 tim53

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 02:14 PM

I tried to search the archives for the old thread about the one that used to be in the showroom.  But I didn't find anything.  I'm pretty sure it was at least 10 years ago.


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#19 starman876

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 04:37 PM

I think the one in the showroom was the only one they had in the shop/storefront in Costa Mesa in 1979.  If they sold any others, it would likely have been shipped directly from Japan to the buyer.  They didn't really have the room to keep an inventory of scopes.  Before 1978, when they started making the 628s and 826s, Meade was a mail-order importer.

 

-tim.

Sounds like Unitron.  Wonder how many others there were. 




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