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 Sei in: Marine Antiques > Binoculars

Our collection includes binoculars of various sizes and brands. Classic naval binoculars, theatre binoculars and other types. We have binoculars of prestigious brands such as Carl Zeiss.


Naval Binoculars  In 1643 the Capuchin Friar De Rheita mounted two telescopes side by side in order to obtain a binocular vision and a wider field of vision. The tester immediately noticed that this solution had gained in vision quality, in stereoscopic vision, despite loss in magnifying power. The world of binoculars took over in 1854, when the Italian army official Ignazio Porro invented a type of binoculars with prisms, known as “Porro prisms” thereafter. It consisted of two rectangular total reflection prisms allowing for a longer focal length, despite its smaller size. The modern binoculars were born, which were quite different from those made of two attached telescopes. This latter remained a solution mostly still used for “theatre binoculars” with low magnifying power. On 9 June, 1893, a new patent by Enrnst Abbe, a mathematician who worked as a designer for the German company Carl Zeiss, was registered in Germany. It was a project which further perfected Porro’s idea and which would be crucial for the company’s worldwide success.  Carl Zeiss were already famous for the production of microscopes. Ernst Abbe also worked with Otto Schott, an expert chemist who was a specialist in the production of special glass and was founder of Schott Glaswerke, a company which soon became the major glass manufacturer in Germany.  Chronicles report that on August 23, 1894, a letter addressed to Prof. Mayer of  the Naples Zoological Station by Prof. Dr. Sigfried Czapski, who had taken over Abbe’s place, announced, “today, we have delivered to His Majesty the Kaiser (Wilhelm II) the binoculars 10X he had requested.”  Carl Zeis had reached its peak.



It is also reported that the Japanese Admiral Togo, winner of the battle of Tushima (1904-1905), used a pair of Carl Zeiss binoculars, finding them unmatched instruments.  Moreover, the popular great explorer Roald Amundsen, before dying on some remote barren land somewhere near the North Pole, in 1924 wrote,  “I’ve been using the same Zeiss binoculars since 1902; for 22 years they have faced with me the worst weather conditions one could ever imagine”. They still work like new.”  Marine optics has many features and often needs to be adapted to specific requirements.  In the field of binoculars, instruments with 8X magnification are normally preferred: a higher magnification would usually be inconvenient for those who need to operate free-hand, with no vibration.  And a lower magnification could not be enough. But this isn’t always the case. For instance, binoculars produced but the Italian company Galileo and conceived for submarine officials during the 2nd World War, were normally 6X instruments.  A lower magnification meant a wider field of vision and higher brightness. These were important factors when under ambush, or when having to fend off sudden air attacks.



In 1935 an important innovation was introduced, when Prof. Alexander Smakula, invented the famous T coating in the German Zeiss labs.  It was an efficient multiple-layer anti-reflecting coating conceived to improve contrast and increase light transmission in the objectives of German submarines’ periscopes.  It was an important step forward for the navy, but also in the field of optics in general.  In 1917 the far-sighted Japanese Mr.Mitsubishi decided that the time had come for Japan to be able to make its own precision instruments, both for civil and military purposes.  So, in order to train local workers, he got in touch with the European producers and invited technicians, particularly from Germany, at a series of seminars in the country of the Rising Sun.  He founded the Nippon Kogaku, which was the first Japanese optical industry to produce its own glass. The company had a great success. During the 2nd World War, the binoculars of the Japanese Navy were mostly made by Nippon Kogaku, as well as the big naval optical telemeters of battleships such as the Yamato.  In the 1930s, Nippon Kogaku grew to 19 factories and 23.000 employees.  After the end of the War, the company was broken up by the allied forces and reduced in size and so it resolved to change the name of its optical-photographic section.   Nikon was the new name.  A name doomed to write history and which is still up-to-date.



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