Original War of 1812 British Brass Naval Telescope

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This telescope is genuine and dates from the period between 1800-1815. It is constructed almost entirely of brass and measures 37 inches overall when fully extended but still a substantial 30 inches when fully closed.

The original leather covering to the barrel has long since gone leaving the dull brass surface with nickel plated fixtures on both ends. The single inner barrel is maker marked in engraved script:

A.Cairns, 32 Warterley Road, Liverpool

Improved Navy

Around the rear nickel plated collar is marked in capitol letters:


Now this has recently come to us from the grandson of a 92-year-old widow who insists it belonged to her ancestor, a Captain Jacob Jones who, on September 12th 1812, whilst in command of the U.S. WASP, an 18 gun Sloop engaged a British warship, also an 18 gun Sloop, H.M.S. FROLIC.

After a harrowing engagement with great loss of life Captain Jones overcame H.M.S. FROLIC and no doubt took this English Telescope, made in Liverpool, as a "Prize" from the British Captain Thomas Whinyates.

As it happened only a few hours after this victory for Captain Jacobs the British Man-o-War H.M.S.P OICTIERS of 74 guns under Captain John Poer Beresford appeared capturing the U.S.S.WASP and recapturing H.M.S. FROLIC and escorted both vessels to Bermuda.

This wonderful narrative of the great engagement between the U.S.S. WASP and H.M.S. FROLIC was immortalized by none other than Theodore Roosevelt in his book "NAVAL WAR OF 1812" pages 139-146 which he wrote whilst holding the office of Secretary of the Navy. This is the stuff history is made of!

Apparently this telescope has lain on exhibition in some U.S. Museum (still unknown to us after much research) for decades and with the purchase of the telescope came the brass museum plaque from the display.

TELESCOPE, taken by Commander of U.S. WASP,

from Commander Cairns Of the British ship FROLIC

after defeat in 1812

As you read above, the Captain of H.M.S. FROLIC was Captain Thomas Whinyates,

"A Cairns" was the Telescope's Manufacturer in Liverpool, England. Clearly sometimes Museums get the facts wrong! Sadly, that too is how history is made.

We have a 92 year old widow who truly believes her ancestor, Captain Jacob Jones of the U.S.S. WASP, who really existed and was present, captured this Telescope, as a Prize from the British Captain Whinyates, yet within hours was captured himself together with his Ship by H.M.S.POICTIERS and taken to Bermuda. So how did he keep the Telescope?

In truth Naval Officer's are and were gentlemen and no doubt Captain Whinyates allowed Captain Jones to retain the Telescope as a memento of the action.

The Telescope is completely genuine and exactly what a British Officer would have carried at the time and the narrative is wonderful, but remember it is a narrative. A historical and Romantic Telescope from the War of 1812!

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