Reference numberMOB/005
TitleReflecting telescope by Isaac Newton
DescriptionReflecting telescope consisting of two tubes, one sliding inside the other to focus the mirrors. The tubes are made from layers of paper/cardboard and the upper tube is covered with a layer of decorative vellum. There are two eyepiece holes, one of which is blocked with cork. The telescope is mounted on a wooden ball with a turned wooden stem and circular wooden base. The words ‘THE FIRST REFLECTING TELESCOPE INUENTED BI Sr ISAAC NEWTON AND MADE WITH HIS OWN HANDS IN THE YEAR 1671’ are engraved on a brass plate screwed to the base. Created by Sir Isaac Newton. Newton built his first reflecting telescope in 1668; this is his second model.
FormatScientific Instrument
MaterialsWood, card, metal
Access statusOpen
ProvenanceNewton's telescope was first shown at the Royal Society in 1671, where it remained on an informal, permanent loan basis. At some point post-1700 (exact date unknown) it was misplaced or deposited elsewhere. Many of the Society's museum objects met the same fate in the 1700s; a result of the Society's inadequate on-site storage conditions.

The telescope was presented to the Society in 1766 by the antiquarian George Scott FRS on behalf of Heath and Wing, a firm of scientific instrument makers in the Strand, London, who affirmed that it was the same model made by and formerly belonging to Sir Isaac Newton. (Tracts 844/12, ‘An account of The Royal Society's NEWTON telescope’ by A.R. Hall and A.D.C. Simpson).
URL descriptionDigital version available on The Royal Society Picture Library
Fellows associated with this archive
NA8414Newton; Sir; Isaac (1642 - 1727); natural philosopher and mathematician1642 - 1727
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