Dudley Fuller started Fullerscopes in the early 1960’s. Whilst touring as a musician in Morocco, a girlfriend gave him a small telescope. In those days, a telescope was not a readily available and easily affordable item. He then made himself a small newtonian reflecting telescope using parts he managed to get from the Americans on the air base. On his return the the UK, he decided that he wanted to upgrade it to a larger, more capable instrument. As a touring musician, he simply couldn’t afford it. He decided to sell his telescope to raise money to build a bigger one. Dud placed an advert in the Exchange and Mart and was flooded with enquiries about his telescope – 48 replies in a weekend!. He realised there was a demand for such instruments….. Fullerscopes was born.
Dudley began making reflectors and small mounts that he designed and had cast in aluminium. Whilst not a trained engineer, Dud was a practical man and a true entrepreneur. When he took his drawing and pattern to the foundry to be cast, they gave him a cast aluminium flat plate in the shape of his mount as he didn’t know he had to give them either a proper drawing or a 3d pattern.
The original sketch of the MKIV. Much of the design work of the company was done on the back of letters, envelopes and cigarette packets.
The First Fullerscopes printed price list from 1963. Click the image below for the complete PDF
Business was surprisingly brisk and Fullerscopes became the full time business.
This is the first illustrated catalogue printed in 1964 (this scan is actually of the very first copy printed). It is a micture of typed and hand written. Always a master of the ‘black economy’, Dud paid some secretaries on the nearby Air Force base cash to type them up in their lunch hours.
1965 saw the business growing and the quality of the catalogue along with it. 1965 saw the birth of the ‘Unit Purchase Plan’.
Dud’s approach to telescope making was actually quite clever. He realised that function was more important than the aesthetic look of the telescope or mount. When constructing an equatorial mount for example, he only had the important components precision machined, Parts that did not require such accuracy didn;t warrant it. This enabled him to produce very well made instruments that simply weren;t as expensive as their competitors. Many people comment nowadays on the questionable engineering usedby Fullerscopes, but in context it was an engineers approach and of course we have at least 40 years of hindsight to look through. It would be remiss not to admit that there were some badly done examples though!
Fullerscopes moved to 760 Finchley road in 1968, where Dud continued to build his range of telescopes and mounts. He also started retailing other optical accessories and photographic printing.
Around this time he also started supplying his mountings to Broadhurst Clarkson & Co.
BC&Co used to cover his Fullerscopes brand name on the mounts they purchased . Dud then started having his name embossed in the castings so that it could not be so easily removed!