Reply To: An old brass refractor.

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David Arditti

I wonder if there is any link here with A A Common, famous astronomer of Ealing and early member of the BAA. He was involved with the Ottway company and patented devices for sighting naval guns around 1900. Here is a partial listing of patents in his name; they are mostly around this subject. Note the patent numbers are nothing like that quoted, and are much longer. This doesn’t look like a correct patent number.

In the obituary of Common by F W Dyson in MNRAS (1903) it is stated that according to a Captain Percy Scott, RN, ‘The great strides made by the British Navy [in gunnery] lately was entirely due to Dr Common…. He had produced a telescopic gun sight that would, when properly used, quadruple the fighting efficiency of our battle-ships.’

I also have a similar gun sight in my collection. Ottways must have made a great many of them. I got mine from the workshop of telescope maker Irvings (Teddington) when they closed down.