November 17, 2020 Early Arms & Militaria: Age of Exploration, Empire & Revolution
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 11/17/2020
An early 19th century, three-draw, mahogany and brass marine “spyglass” measuring 34 ½ inches fully extended with sunshade and 11 inches closed, with sliding brass shutters at each end to protect the objective lens and eyepiece. Vertically engraved on the brass first stage is the inscription "J. Richardson / 16 Somerset Street / London / Improv'd Day or Night"; noted British scientific instrument maker John Richardson (II) worked at this address between 1801-1816. There is a period presentation inscription engraved around the large brass collar on the mahogany barrel, “Used by Com. Perry in the action on Lake Erie 10th. Sept. 1813 / and presented by him to his friend Gen. William Henry Harrison.” Probably one of the most iconic relics of the War of 1812, carried and used in succession, by two of that conflict’s greatest American naval and military heroes. This telescope was an “eyewitness” to the two major events that secured American control of the Old Northwest Territory during the War of 1812, the battles of Lake Erie and the River Thames in 1813, its famous owners literally “saw history unfold before their eyes” while using this telescope in the service of their nation. .” It was the close cooperation and like-mindedness of Perry and Harrison, in their respective leadership roles, that led to the American victories on Lake Erie and the River Thames. During the Thames campaign, Perry accompanied Harrison as a mounted, volunteer aide de camp and made the gift of the telescope as a token of friendship and esteem, one that the future President would treasure for the remainder of his life. During the Presidential campaign of 1840, Whig candidate Harrison was visited by James Brooks, who noted that the War of 1812 hero was a modest, unassuming gentleman of great intellect, whose unostentatious lifestyle and home reflected his personality (New York Daily Express, 23 May 1840). Brooks made note of one of the few prized possessions on display in his modest home, “a little Telescope, his near and dear friend Commodore Perry gave him, used in espying the enemy’s fleet in the battle of Lake Erie, when he wrote to Harrison—‘we have met the enemy and they are ours;’ setting more value I say, on [this testimonial] with the unimpeached name of an honest man, than upon all the wealth of Croesus, with all his luxuries.” The Perry telescope remained a revered Harrison family possession for successive generations; on 14 June 1940, Harrison’s great-grandson, Lytle Harrison Sr. (1876-1956), wrote a “History of the Perry Spy Glass” in which he recalled that his father John Scott Harrison, Jr. kept it “on the drawing room mantel and I regret to say that one of the lenses lost…Probably removed by some of the children to use as a burning glass and not returned.” In his care since 1907, Lytle was now “intrusting this spy glass to my son Lytle Harrison Jr…for safe keeping and upon my death, he should have it.” Provenance: Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry; by him presented to Major General William Henry Harrison; by bequest to Harrison’s son, John Scott Harrison; given to son John Scott Harrison, Jr.; given to his son, Lytle Harrison; from thence by bequest to his son, Lytle Harrison, Jr; sold from the latter’s estate on 12 May 2002; private collection until present. Complete with extensive records of provenance and other documentation, including a typed document “History of the Perry Spy Glass” signed by Lytle Harrison and dated “Los Angeles, 1940.” CONDITION: there are no dents in the draw tubes, the brass elements somewhat tarnished and dirty, resulting in a rather stiff draw action; the mahogany barrel with sunshade is currently separated from the brass, telescoping stages due to wood split/loss at the rivet points within the ¼ inch join; the distal sliding shutter and lens missing. JLK

CORRECTION: This lot does include the original copy of the letter signed by Lytle Harrison dated 1946 regarding the provenance of this item.
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $25,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium: $99,000.00
Estimate: $50,000 - $100,000
Number Bids: 30
Auction closed on Tuesday, November 17, 2020.
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