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Q: old Liverpool optician company history ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: old Liverpool optician company history
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: kilboj-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 05 Dec 2004 15:10 PST
Expires: 04 Jan 2005 15:10 PST
Question ID: 438503
I would like the history of an optical company that made and sold such
things as telescopes in Liverpool, England circa the 1800s.  The name of the
company shown on the scope reads: Chadburn Optician and Co. to HRH
Prince Albert, 71 Lord Street, Liverpool.  I need the information NLT
December 8.

Clarification of Question by kilboj-ga on 05 Dec 2004 18:06 PST
I can provide digital e mail pictures of the actual telescope in
question to anyone who might be able to tell more about this piece's
approximate dates of sale or original selling price.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 05 Dec 2004 20:22 PST
Hello kilboj-ga,

I'm finding quite a few bits and pieces of information about
Chadburn's in various historical archives, auction sites, etc.

I'd be more than happy to stich them together into a history -- as
best as is possible, given the scattered information available.

However, I want to make sure that general background on the company is
really what you're after, since your clarification seems to indicate a
particular interest in one item -- the telescope.  In general, I have
not found a great deal of information on their their telescopes --
nothing about the original selling prices -- though I did come across
one photograph of a Chadburn-Liverpool telescope:

Does that bear any resemblence to the instrument you're inquiring about?

Anyway, if there is anything else you can tell me about the sort of
answer you are anticipating, it would certainly help me in focusing
(get it?) my research.



Clarification of Question by kilboj-ga on 05 Dec 2004 21:17 PST
This is to enhance an historical gift for a decade birthday.  I am
giving a  telescope by Chadburn to my brother on his 60th birthday as
a man of "vision".  Chadbournes are related to Kilbournes (us).  So it
seems especially a fitting gift.  My idea is to enhance the gift by
providing with it some history of the Chadburn Optician Co, so that
the scope feels like it has more of a provenance.  It was in the
collection of a seller I found through I think an eBay search.  It
most closely resembles what appears to be a three "draw" scope lying
on the top of the cabinet in the picture.  This one is a four draw
that measures almost 38 inches fully extended, for  total of five
sections including the main barrel.  The main barrel looks like
leather in pictures but is actually only painted brown to simulate
leather.  Hope this helps.  JK
Subject: Re: old Liverpool optician company history
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 06 Dec 2004 18:13 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars

I've got two good hits regarding the Chadburn Brothers that I think
you and your brother will enjoy -- one to a set of informative and
printable images, and another to Jules Vernes' "Journey to the Center
of the Earth".

In addition, there is a host of smaller details that will add to the
story of Chadburn's.

All in all, I trust this information will fully answer your question,
and enhance your brother's birthday celebration.  But before rating
this answer, please let me know if you need any additional
information.  Just post a Request for Clarification, and I'll be happy
to assist you further.

All the best,



First, the images.  At this link:

you'll find the image of  an ad from 1858 that appeared in "The New
Illustrated Directory Entitled Men and Things of Modern England".

The text of the ad includes the following (I've omitted some of the text, however):


Chadburn Brothers
Opticians &c
To HRH Prince Albert
Beg to call the attention of the Public to the annexed Plate
representing their Show Room
at the Manufactory
Albion Works, Nursery Street
And also to the List of Instruments manufactured by them, most particularly
For which they are most extensively celebrated...

Telescopes, Microscopes


Double Glasses
For Opera, Race, Landscape, or Sea...

Patent Steam And Other Gauges
and registered stereoscopes, &c

Branch Establishment, 71, Lord Street, Liverpool

Optical Glass Grinding Works, Nursery Steam Grinding Wheel


Note that the ad places the main establishment for Chadburn in
Sheffield, with a prominently-displayed branch establishment at 71
Lord Street in Liverpool.  Hence we can be quite certain that these
are one and same as your telescope makers.

They?re also quite obviously proud of their attachment to Prince Albert.

The ad invites the public to view the "annexed Plate", an engraving
which is also available online at:

This is a glorious image of an exhibition room meant to illustrate the
glorious diversity of Chadburn?s offerings.  The text includes these
main headers:

The public are respectfully invited to inspect the Exhibition Room of

Chadburn Brothers
Optical Mathematical and Philosophical Instrument Maters
Albion Works, Nursery Street
To H.R.H. Prince Albert

There are two things I'd like to point out about these images.

First, the Revolutionary Players site on which they appear includes a
"zoomify" option.  By pressing the "zoomify image" button below the
image itself, you'll be able to magnify sections of the image and
explore them in more detail.

Secondly, by right-clicking (in a Windows system) on the images,
you'll have the option to save a copy of the image to a local file,
which you can then open up in a picture processing program (such as
you might use for photographs) to enlarge the image and make a
reasonably good print of them (unfortunately, these are not high
resolution images, so the print quality will be limited).  If you need
any assistance with the copying/printing steps, just let me know.

By the way, my colleague, scriptor-ga, provided a link (in the
comments section, below) to a very similar image at:

This appears to be a slightly modified version of the ad, and
highlights Chadburn's role in the Great Exhibition at the Crystal
Palace in 1851, spotlighting Britain's industrial and technological

Trade advertisement for the Chadburn Brothers of Sheffield, 1851.

Illustration taken from 'The Official Descriptive and Illustrated
Catalogue of the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all
Nations', volume 8 'Machinery', 1851. The Chadburn Brothers were
optical, mathematical and philosophical instrument makers based in
Sheffield, South Yorkshire. This advertisement shows their exhibition
rooms at the Crystal Palace. The 'Great Exhibition' was an idea
conceived by Prince Albert (1819-1861) to showcase Britain's
technological achievements and demonstrate its industrial and economic
superiority to the rest of the world. The Crystal Palace in London was
built expressly for the purpose of housing the exhibits.

This, too, can be right-clicked, saved, and printed, or you can use
the "Download Low Res" option at the top of the picture.

However, for a really top-notch print, you can order a high-resolution
copy directly from the "Science and Society Site" at:

Prices range from $17.90 to $89.50 (10 to 50 UK pounds).

If you're interested in this, just search on [ chadburn ] at the above
site, and it will take you to the available images, and provide
ordering information.


Now, onto Jules Vernes.

It seems that when the text of Journey to the Center of the Earth
(then titled Journey to the Interior of the Earth) was being
translated into English in 1877, the translator had a quibble with
Verne's use of instrumentation.  So naturally, the translator turned
to the premier authority of the day on scientific instrumentation:


[1] In M. Verne's book a 'manometer' is the instrument used,
of which very little is known. In a complete list of philosophical
instruments the translator cannot find the name.
As he is assured by a first-rate instrument maker, Chadburn,
of Liverpool, that an aneroid can be constructed to measure
any depth, he has thought it best to furnish the adventurous
professor with this more familiar instrument. The 'manometer'
is generally known as a pressure gauge.-Trans.


Those were the big finds, and I hope you're pleased with them.  The
rest of the information, below, provides some additional detail about
Chadburn Brothers optical equipment makers.  I found references to
their operations as early as 1822, and as late as 1911, though I
wasn't able to conclusively confirm the beginning and end dates of
their operations.

Most of the information pertains to Chadburn items for sale in
auctions, and Directory listings for Chadburn.  Here are the available

The cache of this site mentions an auction of a Chadburn telescope by
Tennant's auction house:
 A brass and mahogany telescope by Chadburn, 71 Lord St. Liverpool in
original case E50-80


A late 19thC English barograph with retailers plaque 'Chadburn's
Opticians, Liverpool', 14.5in long overall.
[A photo and fuller description are available to subscribers of this site]


A 19th Century Brass 2.5 inch (6.4 cm) Refracting Telescope signed
Chadburn Ltd Liverpool. The brass tube measuring 36 ins (91 cms) in
length and having rack and pinion focusing raised on a tapering brass
column and tripod stand; the down swept legs on scroll feet.

[This is the same photo of the telescope I referenced earlier, and I
believe the telescope on the tripod in the front is the Chadburn]:


Mid - Victorian surveying level - Chadburn, Liverpool 




[The index for this journal mentions Chadburn in two places, but
unfortunately, I do not have access to the text of the journal

The Journal of the American
Scientific Instrument Enterprise

Maritime Museum 

The museum's collection includes:

Mariner's telescopes by Dollond, Crichton, Chadburn Brothers, L.J.
Harri and others.

[These County archives contain records of Chadburn, in case you?re
ever in the area]
South Yorkshire County Records		
Sheffield Archives: 
Chadburn Brothers, opticians, of Sheffield [1822-1894]

This site lists several directories that contained listings for
Chadburn, including:

Robson's Birmingham & Sheffield Directory, 1839
[Lists Chadburn Brothers at their 26 Nursery St address in Sheffield,
and also mentions a separate Manufactory at 46 Johnson St]

History, Gazetteer & Directory of Staffordshire, 1851 

White's Directory of Sheffield & Rotherham, 1901 
[oddly, the address is listed as 30 Nursery St]

White's Directory of Sheffield & Rotherham, 1911 
[again, 30 Nursery St]


[note from a photo collection--photo not available]
The collection consists of one carbon print of a photographic portrait
of Joseph Mayer, F.S.A., taken by Charles H. Chadburn, optician, of
Lord Street, Liverpool in 1857.

Well....that's it.  I'm sure your gift will make for a splendid
present, and I hope the information here adds to the occasion in the
way you hoped for.

Let me know if there's anything else I can help you with.


search strategy:  Google searches on:


chadburn (sheffiled OR liverpool)

"chadburn brothers" OR "chadburn bros"

chadburn (optical OR opticians)
kilboj-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
fine answer is good detail.

Subject: Re: old Liverpool optician company history
From: scriptor-ga on 05 Dec 2004 15:58 PST
A note to my colleagues:

Located at 71 Lord Street in Liverpool was a branch establishment of
"Chadburn Brothers, Optical, Mathematical and Philosophical Instrument
Makers", based in Sheffield. This is proven by an 1851 advertisement,
with the Liverpool branch address visible in the lower left corner: [Source: 1]

The company's address was 20 Nursery Street in Liverpool. [Source: 3]

The Sheffield Archives hold some documents concerning Chadburn
Bothers; unfortunately, they are not accessible online. [Source: 4]


[1] Science & Society: Trade advertisement for the Chadburn Brothers
of Sheffield, 1851

[2] Science & Society: Chadburn Brothers Documents

[3] GENUKI: Sheffield Directory, 1852

[4] A2A Database


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