Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Heirloom Zeiss Turita Binoculars


This weekend I saw a friend presented with a pair of top-of-the-line Zeiss Victory 10x42 binoculars. I was impressed, and not a little bit jealous. However, at a family Christmas party the next day I was presented with my very own pair of top-of-the-line Zeiss binoculars, which happened to be just 90 years old.

My beloved Uncle Alfred gave me a small pair of binoculars in a leather case which belonged to my Great Grandfather, William P. Viles. His initials are on the front. The binoculars are 8x24 and are still in fantastic shape, with the original leather strap and the glass in perfect shape. The image very sharp, but these are Ziesses, after all.





I don't know much about the history of binoculars, so I did a bit of digging to find out more about these optics. The serial number on the front -- 1424360 -- places this pair, I believe, in the first year of Turita production, in 1927. It appears that this is the same model and year as those owned by Ernest Hemingway, which he carried with him about the Dorothea Dix on D-Day and also referenced in For Whom The Bell Tolls, The Green Hills of Africa, and other works. Very cool.

But there's more information on the binoculars. There's a mark on the front side of the pair which reads "E.B. Meyrowitz New York London Paris." The E.B. Meyrowitz store still stands in Manhattan,  on West 44th Street, and is proud to have served Teddy Roosevelt, Charles Lindbergh, and Amelia Earhart.



If these were bought in 1927, they may have been a gift to my Great Grandfather for his 20th birthday. William Viles was born in New Hampshire but spend most his life in the Augusta, Maine area, part of a long line of Viles involved in the logging industry in central and northern Maine. He was a successful businessman and an excellent golfer, and was active in many charitable causes. He still is, in a way. He died when I was just three years old, but I do have memories of him.

I don't know if I'll use these as much as I would a new pair of Victories, but I'll treasure them much more.

Digi-binning through 90 year old binoculars

2 comments:

Birdie L said...

A priceless treasure, indeed! Was your great grandfather a birder also?

NickL said...

Hi Birdie! As far as I know, no he wasn't a birder. He was a golfer, and may have used these on the links, or maybe in his timber work. Would be fun to know more.

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