Early Italian binocular telescope brings $539,000 to science auction

An early Italian binocular telescope has seen the highest bids in Christie's Travel, Science and Natural History auction, which was held on October 10 in London.

Binocular telescope Italian
The telescope is finely made, with a green vellum draw tube gilt tooled with a signature and silver mounts

The remarkable telescope was created circa 1719 by Pietro Patroni, and is a superb artefact from the early history of astronomy. A particularly fine example, it sold for £338,500 ($538,892), comfortably meetings its £300,000-500,000 estimate.

Also selling well was an early English terrestrial globe, which made £56,250 to achieve a 12.5% increase on its £50,000 high estimate.

Made and sold by Robert Morden and William Berry, the globe is comprised of twelve hand-coloured engraved gores and two polar calottes. Its appeal lies in its lavish decorations, featuring continents decorated with animals and indigenous peoples, and seas featuring ships and sea monsters.

The sale was highlighted by artefacts such as this, with a bronze mariner's astrolabe - a device for measuring the positions of the Sun, Moon, planets and stars - realising £37,500 ($59,700).

Elsewhere in the sale, a first edition, presentation copy of the deluxe issue of Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton's The Heart of the Antarctic sold for £18,750 ($29,850) - a 56.2% increase on its £12,00 high estimate.

The book is numbered five of 300, and is signed by all the members of the shore party. An outstanding account of the British Antarctic Expedition of 1907-1909, it charts Shackleton's most famous voyage in his own words.

Shackleton memorabilia is highly collectible, with the Polar Medal of Dr Alister Forbes Mackay - a member of Shackleton's Antarctic expedition - selling at Bonhams on October 16.

Paul Fraser Collectibles is currently offering a letter from Shackleton to his wife, written on his final voyage.

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