A Brief History of the Antique Telescope Society
by Bart Fried
The ATS was first conceived in conversations
between antique telescope collectors Bart Fried, Ken Launie, John Briggs and Bob Ariail over the course of several years in
the late 1980's. Fried felt that a convention of collectors would be fun and useful, and while studying how to organize this, it
became apparent to him that forming a society was feasible. Further discussions during the summer of 1990 with collector
Bruce Wingate convinced Fried that a society should be formed. Bruce was having much the same idea about a society and
graciously volunteered to assist by starting and editing a journal. Others who gave a lot of initial support were Debbie Warner
at the Smithsonian; John Allseits, volunteering as V.P.and at that time historian of the Chicago Astronomical Society; collector
Jack Koester who volunteered to act as Treasurer, and new collector Walt Breyer volunteering as Secretary.
International membership was solicited by Fried in 1991 and the society published the first issue of it's Journal in 1992. This
was also the year of the innaugural convention at the historic U.S. Naval Observatory, which by all accounts was a huge
success. At the convention, the first business meeting was held and the board members were ratified. This has been followed
with steady improvements in the Journal, many instituted by current editor Bob Hambleton, and two more annual conventions,
each larger and just as successful as the first.
The society has grown as an international society of over 200 members in a dozen or more countries and many members offer
expertise in sub-topics such as specific makers, era's of telescope manufacture, restoration techniques, accessories information,
old and books and atlases, and more. All share enthusiasm over the fun of studying, using and preserving beautiful and
interesting vintage astronomical instruments.