03-24-2007 03-24-2007
Skinner Auctions
Skinner Auctions Boston MA
2355 Boston
March 24, 2007 10:00 AMCalender

Rare Bronze Art-Nouveau Porter Garden Telescope

Auction: Clocks, Watches & Scientific Instruments - 2355 Location: Boston Date / Time: March 24, 2007 10:00AM


Rare Bronze Art-Nouveau Porter Garden Telescope, No. 53, the 6-inch dia. mirror in heart of bronze lotus leaves, with declination circle on the underside callibrated by individual degrees 60-0-70, and declination clamp formed as a petal, pivoting in hour ring divided in ten minute intervals IX - 0 - IX, a slender bronze leaf rising from the lotus bowl to support pin-gnomon, prism and eyepiece on tension-sprung adjustment, supported on plate by three leaves concealing wheel adjustment for setting the telescope to latitudes from 35 - 50 °, the bedplate with names Kepler, Newton and Galileo cast in the perimeter, and cast-iron pedestal to spreading flower-form base, ht. level approx. 62 in., (mirror, prism and some other replacement parts).
Provenance: Telescope No. 53 is listed as having been acquired by Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts from the Clark estate.
Note: Designed by Russell Porter (1871 - 1949), artist, arctic explorer, engineer and pioneer of amateur astronomy in America. The influence and his work can be seen in places divserse as the Smithsonian Institute and the 200-inch Hale Telescope on Mt. Palomar in California. Porter's goal was to create an instrument that would be ornamental and practical in equal degrees, capapble of surrounding both a celestial or a garden landscape. Beginning in c. 1923, the Porter Garden Telescopes were produced by the Jones and Lamson Machine Company of Vermont. They were originally supplied with a compendium of accessories, including double eyepieces (for two people using the telescope simultaneously), which dismantled with the mirror and the prism, to stow in a purpose-fitted case when not in use.
The Newtonian 6-inch reflecting telescope converts into a sundial if the prism is pointed at the sun, the time read with ten-minute accuracy from the hour chapter ring that encircles the lotus bowl. A fusion of design, sculpture and science, original production was estimated at between seventy-five and two hundred instruments; of these, there are thirteen surviving examples recorded, including this one.
Estimate $30,000-50,000


Russell Porter, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts, engineer , Smithsonian Institute, Mt. Palomar, Hale Telescope, Lamson Machine Company, Porter , Vermont