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WWI British Mk IX Trench periscope
A fine original example with a makers plate indicating made by the firm of By R&J Beck Ltd. This is also engraved 'Periscope Mk IX' and is dated 1918 and carries serial number 28886. Brothers Richard and Joseph Beck formed the optical manufacturing firm of R and J Beck in 1843, based in London. The firm is remembered for helping to raise the status of the use of microscopes within scientific research but clearly in WWI this was extended to help saving lives on the battlefield.
The instrument measures 23 1/2" overall (60 cm) and has a removable varnished turned beech wood handle with a brass screw attachment point. The brass eyepiece has a focus ring on it and the optics are in good clear condition and all functions as intended a century ago! The brass body of the periscope fortunately still carries most of its original olive drab paintwork. These instruments are often found stripped and the brass body polished to a high shine but this one has fortunately avoided this fate ; as with all instruments stripping and polishing seriously reduces their value on the collectors market. The Mk IX are generally regarded as intended for use by Officers and they provided the potentially lifesaving function by enabling a clear view over the parapet of the trench into 'no man's land' without risking life and limb to the attentions of the German snipers in the opposing trench.
The history of this example is a little hazy although we do know it was picked up in the latter part of WWI as a souvenir from the trenches, together with the interesting hand bearing compass we are also listing today. That is named to an Officer of the East Lancashire Regiment and it is thought both items were acquired at the same time but this is very much family hearsay. Neither have ever been offered for sale in the last 100 years and are therefore fresh to market. A good crisp original example that will sit happily in a WWI militaria or optical collection.