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Hymans Pocket Rangefinder (1915)

Price $187.00 Sale

A very rare early version of this WW1-era British military rangefinder, dating from c.1915, before the patent was granted. Designed by Charles Hymans of Cambridge, it was patented in the UK in 1915 (Patent No. 4493/15). This example is marked 'Patent Pending'. The Hymans range finder appeared in many newspaper and magazine advertisments during WW1, often with testimonials from officers serving in the front line. As an officer in a 'Cyclist Co. B.E.F., Somewhere in France' wrote: 'I have the Hymans Pocket Range Finder and am very pleased with it. I have shown the Range Finder to several officers, who were all very interested. Major General --- examined it for about half an hour'. The Hymans Rangefinder was described as being 'Approved by and supplied to H. M. War Office', and was priced at 57 shillings in 1915. It was said to be made on an 'entirely new principle and for simplicity and accuracy has no equal. Every officer should carry one in his tunic pocket'.

The instrument has a brass case with an oxidised finish containing the rangefinder elements, a prism and a sliding lens with intergral scale. The case carries the maker's mark, 'Chas. Hymans, Cambridge', and the wording 'Patent Pending'. It is also signed on the other side of the case by the retailer, 'C. Baker, 244 High Holborn, London'. On either side of the rangefinder there are measurement tables to be used in conjunction with the scale on the sliding lens frame. The Rangefinder comes complete with its original fitted leather case. A Copy of the US Patent documents will be included with the Rangefinder, and these include diagrams, descriptions of its design and function, and detailed instructions for the use of the instrument.

Charles Hymans (1882-1972): was an opthalmic optician and scientific instrument retailer with premises in St Andrews St, Cambridge, and also in King's Lynn. His family were originally from Holland, arriving in London in the 1860s. In 1901 Charles was apprenticed to an optical and scientific manufacturer in London, and by 1911 he had moved to Cambridge and set up his own business. He set up a second branch in King's Lynn, which traded until 1918, afterwards concentrating on the Cambridge business, which was still trading as Hymans & Cox until the 1930s.


The rangefinder is in very good condition, and working order. It has been carefully cleaned, including cleaning the prism and sliding lens. The sliding lens and prism are in very good condition. The original fitted leather case is in very good condition.


Dimensions : 85mm length, 32mm width, 20mm depth