One common interest expressed by people looking for antique binoculars is what would be its worth in monetary terms. This can be quite irritating to those who love their antique binoculars and is a question that may not be answered correctly for all situations. Nevertheless, the monetary value of vintage binoculars has some important roles to play as valuing them may help to bring them out of cold storage and return them once again into circulation. It is mainly dealers who bring them out by buying them at antique garage sales and who need to know their value before buying.

Antique Binoculars French Opera Glasses Hooded

Antique French Opera Glasses Hooded

It is thought that ever since 1999, internet sales have become quite important in valuing antique binoculars. There are many different types of binoculars and the antiques among them might be the old field glasses, antique opera glasses binoculars or the prism binoculars. Field glasses were the simple Galilean optical creation where the lens closest to the eye (ocular) is concave and takes the image away from the eye. These vintage antique binoculars were of low power, had a limited field of vision and were not as efficient as the prism binoculars.

Of a smaller size are the folding vintage opera glasses, which might have Paris mother of pearl opera covers (very attractive and a common feature) along with an abalone shell or ivory or other unusual materials. In contrast, the field glasses are not as valuable as these, unless and until they are very unusual or made by the very best of makers, such as Carl Zeiss or Leitz. On the other hand, the prism binoculars have the objective lens offset from the eyepiece in order to provide a much better view.

The prism binocular has been around since 1900 and in its standard form, the Porro prism or the roof prism are both antique binoculars, which users have been quite accustomed to using, from those early times. Mostly, the order of preference is the German binocular and then the American, English and finally, the French antique binoculars, which were usually of good quality and in this regard, the old Japanese binoculars of World War II vintage or earlier were of very good quality, especially those made by Nippon Kogaku (Nikon).


There are antique binoculars telescopes that are center focused, consisting of one central wheel for focusing both sides at once and are easier to use, though harder to seal against dirt and moisture. On the other hand, individual focus antique binoculars get adjusted through the rotation of each eyepiece and these are cleaner to use. Either type of antique binocular is preferred by different collectors, and very large binoculars are always the subject of much interest. Finally, all binoculars are classified according to magnification power and the objective’s diameter, like for example, 6 times magnification with 30mm diameter would be known as 6×30.

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