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AN EXCELLENT “LIKE NEW” HELIOGRAPH – UNISSUED COMPLETE SET OF INSTRUMENT HEAD, TRIPOD, SPARE PARTS, CARRYING CASE AND STRAPS – ALL IN EXCELLENT CONDITION:  This is an excellent and complete Heliograph Set, as issued to teams of signalmen in the field.  While this set is the Mark V, British Army Set, dating from World War Two, the technology of this reliable system had not appreciably changed since it was invented in the mid-19TH Century, and the equipment and manner of its use in the field did not differ significantly from one nation’s armed forces to the next.   

The use of heliographs by the US Army is well documented, particularly during the Indian Wars period.  Signal Corps soldiers equipped with heliographs were active in the Montana Territory in the late 1870’s and the use of the heliograph in the final campaign against Geronimo and the Apaches in Arizona and Mexico in the late 1880’s is a matter of historical record.  That the heliographs continued to be used by armies around the world well into the 20th Century is not something that is commonly known by collectors.  Found to be useful in areas not yet crossed with telegraph and eventually telephone lines, the heliographs continued to provide the troops in the field with a reliable long distance communication network.  The US Army employed the heliograph with notable success in areas of operations such as along the Southwest Border of the United States, the Philippines, China and other remote areas of operations.   

This “Mark V” Heliograph Instrument set was manufactured for the British Army and is so marked.  The instrument proper consists of the complete headpiece, with both the primary and secondary mirrors, as well as the aiming post.  The entire headpiece, as well as the full complement of spare parts, tools, and extra mirrors is contained and carried in a  heavy leather pouch on a web carrying strap.  All of the components and the leather case are in “like new” condition, showing no signs of ever having been issued and what little rubbing is present on any of the parts is due to buffing against the inside of the case.  All of the components fit together properly for assembly, and none show any misshaping.  The leather case leather retains its original natural leather color with no oil soaking or soiling, the straps and billets are all intact and full length, the web strap is complete and full length, and the stampings on the leather case are fully legible.    

The original instruction sheet is present, but age and having been folded caused the paper to deteriorate.  While I was able to save the original to keep it with this set, I transcribed the text to a fresh sheet of paper which is included with this set, in order that the new owner have the correct set of instructions to assemble and use this heliograph, or to include with this set when it is displayed.   

The matching tripod, measuring 40” tall with a 2 ˝”diameter brass head, is marked on the brass leg sockets “STAND LAMP OR HELIO A MK II” and dated 1943.  The three wood legs are intact, full length, retain the original red colored finish, and each of the ends is fitted with a brass reinforcement plate.  The mounting plate is fitted with a threaded cap which is retained with a chain on a swivel to prevent loss.  The webbing material carrying strap is in like new condition, showing no wear or staining.     

This is a particularly nice set in excellent condition.  A very historic Signal Corps collectable, and presenting as a complete set such as this Heliograph does, this instrument  makes for a very interesting artifact from the days of early military communications.  (0601)  $1250



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