A rare and unusual WW1 British military range finder, dating from c.1915. Designed by Charles Hymans of Cambridge, it was patented in 1915 (Patent No. 4493/15). 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 Range Finder 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 patent number, 4493/15. On either side of the case there are measurement tables to be used in conjunction with the scale on the sliding lens frame. The Range Finder comes complete with its original fitted leather case. Copies of the Patent documents will be included with the Range Finder, and these include extensive details of the design, function and 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 full working order. The sliding lens and prism are working well. The original fitted leather case is in very good condition.