Short Reflecting Telescope (Gregorian)

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This is a small brass reflector mounted on a simple pillar that is attached to a wooden box. It has a short focusing rod and two open sights for sighting distant objects. The aperture is 2 inches, the tube is 9.5 inches long, and the focus is 7 inches. The “JAMES SHORT LONDON J744 37/405 = 7” signature on the eye-plate indicates that this telescope was made in 1744, it has a 7-inch focus, it was Short’s 405th telescope overall, and it was his 37th telescope of this size. It came to the Smithsonian from the Burndy Library, through Bern Dibner.
James Short (1710-1768) began making reflecting telescopes while studying at the University of Edinburgh. He was elected F.R.S. in 1836, moved to London in 1738, and made some 1360 telescopes overall. In addition to his skill at figuring and polishing mirrors, his commercial success came from his use of the division of labor (he concentrated on the mirrors and bought the brass parts from others), a growing demand for telescopes, and the support of patrons.
Ref: D. J. Bryden, James Short and His Telescopes (Edinburgh, 1968).
Gerard L’E Turner, “James Short, F.R.S., and his Contribution to the Construction of Reflecting Telescopes,” Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 24 (1969): 91-108.
Currently not on view
date made
Short, James
place made
United Kingdom: England, London
overall: 10 in x 13 1/4 in x 4 1/4 in; 25.4 cm x 33.655 cm x 10.795 cm
overall: 9 3/8 in x 13 1/8 in x 4 1/4 in; 23.8125 cm x 33.3375 cm x 10.795 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Burndy Library
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Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Science & Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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