Spencer Browning & Co
London, England; 1840−50
Brass, glass, string
Incised “Spencer Browning & C\o/London./Day or Night”
Bequest of the Estate of James O’Hara Cazenove 1973.0002

Telescopes like this one served many purposes in the Atlantic world of trade and commerce, but they were also used on plantations to oversee the work of enslaved laborers. What would a telescope mean to a merchant sailor peering through its glass as he navigated the Atlantic or to an enslaved woman watched from a distance as she toiled in a sugar field?

Although we do not know who used this telescope, it allows us to consider how such objects take on alternate meanings when viewed through a different lens.