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  • Spencer Browning &co. Telescope Of - Civil War - Confederate Blockade-runner - Lieut. John Wilkinson


Housed for some years in our own Maine related Civil War collection (see in part: MaineLegacy.comCOLOR=#0000FF>) simply because CS Navy Lieut. John Wilkinson's CSS Robert E. Lee was captured by the Maine made ship USS Iron Age, we have decided, as we pare down, to offer this piece to a more appropriate home. Acquired some years ago when it emanated out of Halifax, Nova Scotia where Lieutenant Wilkinson lived for a time after the War, this 41 ½ inch drawn, Spencer Browning & Co. - London Improved marked telescope bears the clearly period inscription Lt. John Wilkinson C.S.N. on the drawer. Measuring approximately 12 5/8 inches closed, this historic Confederate Navy relic remains in pleasing to look at condition, functional with good optics. Entirely brass with no covering and some minor period dings and scrapes under the patina as evidence of period use but in nice as found and uncleaned condition with a natural overall light patina. While this could be easily remedied (but we wouldn't) the telescoping sunshade will only partially advance. Good provenance for war time presence by this manufacturer is offered by Federal prize court records offering a number of telescopes marked Spencer Browning & Co. found in the cargos of Confederate ships attempting to run the Union blockade. (see: the outstanding Confederate / English Civil War reference: The English Connection by Pritchard & Huey) It is of interest to also note here that the American Civil War Museum (formerly The Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond has in its collection, the scratch inscribed Spencer Browning & Co. telescope of CSS Shenandoah commander James I. Waddell. (Museum Catalog # 0985.13.00164)
A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, John Wilkinson resigned his commission as a lieutenant in April 1861, and accepted the same rank in the Confederate service. Captured in the fall of New Orleans, Wilkinson was exchanged in August 1862 and traveled to England to take command of the Confederate blockade-runner Robert E. Lee which was to become one of the most successful of the war. (see: The Narrative of a Blockade Runner by Captain John Wilkinson 1877 ) Good fodder for some additional research, we know that Wilkinson was in Nova Scotia and Lieut. Richard H. Gayle was in command of the Robert E. Lee when she was captured on November 9, 1863. We can reasonably surmise that Wilkinson had kept his well-usedSpencer Browning & Co telescope as a personal item when he later commanded the raiders Chickamauga and Chameleon and carried it with him to Nova Scotia where he lived in Halifax for a while after the war before returning to Virginia, where he died in 1891. How his telescope got left in Halifax where it was recovered by a local antique picker decades later has been lost in time. Buy with confidence! We are pleased to offer a no questions asked three day inspection with return as purchased on direct sales! Just send us a courtesy e-mail to let us know your item will be returned per these provisions and your purchase price will be refunded accordingly. Thanks for visiting Gunsight Antiques! COLOR=#0000FF>

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