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Posted By: Dave Gaddy on: 05/20/2005 07:02:47 EDT
Subject: RE: Field Glasses (Gen. Lee's)

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Nicely done, Mike. Notwithstanding charges of being a perfectionist, I don't fault what you did any more than I would a cooler tucked inside an "ammo" box. (That's why we have the "replica" businesses.) What I'm after is finding and documenting what "they" used; how that info is used in re-enacting is your concern. If I had a "first generation" original of what I often describe, you can bet I wouldn't take it into field conditions.
When I first started to get interested in the optical instruments of the signal corps, my learning curve started...and it was easier then to find field glasses in the lower price range. (It's the old story--document first generation use and the prices soar. Document Confederate and they triple. So I'm a bit cautious about broadcasting some findings.) In the case of your purchase, the price was right, your eyes were wide open, and you realized that, if nothing else, you could have something for spare parts. Instead, you modified it, learned about construction, and evidently enjoyed re-visiting the old leathercraft skills. Same here.
As for quibbles--Until I see proof to the contrary, I'm looking to straight bridges, rather than "nose-curved" (as yours are), or jointed to adjust for eye separation, as representative of the 1860s. Yours also lack the elevating connection that raises and lowers the "top bridge." You've already noted the superiority of your internal improvements to the optics. Those things said, we're back to my earlier comments--they serve your purpose and they look good to observers. And you have the personal pride (and knowledge gained) from the work.
The Museum of the Confederacy has "Jeumelle Marine" glasses attributed to JEB Stuart, John D. Smith, and Joseph Bidgood--whether these are older products of the same firm than yours, I don't know. Something else to research!
Enclosed is a link to provide some comparisons and prices.
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