West Sea Company

3. Nautical Instruments

Prices in U.S. Dollars are in GREEN




3.06  BINNACLE INCLINOMETER.  Authentic World War I era pilot house binnacle clinometer made by the noted American makers Kelvin and Wilfred O. White as boldly marked on the silvered brass dial "KELVIN-WHITE CO. BOSTON & NEW YORK."  This precision nautical instrument features a blackened brass pendulum bob overriding an arched scale reading in 2 degree increments from 0 to 40 degrees port and starboard.  It is housed in its solid brass case under glass.  The back is curved to fit the front of the binnacle and there are mounting tabs on each side to accommodate screws.  Functional original condition with a lovely age patina to the brass surfaces.  The silver dial is perfect.  179


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3.67  ENGLISH SEXTANT.  Early 1900's totally complete sextant with all of the bells and whistles, by the esteemed makers "Heath & Co., Ltd. New Eltham London," as engraved on the large arc.  It is further marked "Made For Kelvin & Wilfred O. White Co Boston – New York" with the serial number "C752."  This state-of-the art sextant has a solid brass frame of the classic "3 circle" construction.  The large arc has the traditional inlaid silver scale calibrated in single degrees from -5 to 130.  The innovative patented drum micrometer readout on the index arm provides a detailed reading down to a theoretical 10 arc seconds accuracy or about 30 nautical miles.  The index arm is engraved "<HEZZANITH> Rapid Reader Patent" and bears the applied maker's tag reading "HEZZANTH" Endless Tangent Screw Automatic Clamp – Patent Semper Paratus." (Always Ready).  This handsome sextant has its complete compliment of horizon and index mirrors, 4 index filters and 3 horizon filters.  It is equipped with a height adjustable sight holder which accommodates both of the sighting telescopes and the peep tube.  The back retains its large sculpted mahogany handles and 3 brass "feet" for mounting in its original box.  The entire instrument is in its black finish to prevent glare while taking sun lines.  The index arm measures 9 ½ inches long and the large arcis 9 ¼ inches wide. The solid oak box is of machine dove-tail construction measuring 10 ½ by 11 inches and 5 ¼ thick.  The lid of the box bears the original label of examination from the "Hezzanith Instrument Works" signed and dated "1937."  In addition it has the later card from the "New York Nautical Instrument & Service Corp."  Remarkably this box is totally complete with two telescopes, peep tube, adjusting pin, adjusting wrench, eyepiece filter and bristle brush marked "TO CLEAN ARC RACK," and its original skeleton lock and key!  The box has a brass folding drop handle and two large brass hooks for closure.  Of special note, the box lid is totally intact without cracks.  Virtually all sextant boxes of this vintage and earlier suffer from shrinkage.  They absolutely DO NOT come any more complete and original than this! SOLD

"Heath & Co., Ltd. 2 Tower Royal, Cannon Street, London state in a 1910 catalog at the Peabody Museum that the firm was established in 1845.  It is still in the business (as of 1963) using the trade mark "Hezzanith."

"Kelvin & Wilfred O. White Co. Organized in 1919 by Wilfred O. White, born in 1878 in Australia, who in 1900-1901 studied under Lord Kelvin in Glasgow, Scotland, and who had settled in Boston in 1902.  There he worked for the instrument dealer C. C. Hutchinson until 1907 when White began working under his own name as a professional compass adjuster.  During World War I, he manufactured compasses and in 1919 organized the firm with a branch in New York City."

(M.V. Brewington, "The Peabody Museum Collection of Navigating Instruments," 1963 Peabody Museum, Salem, Massachusetts).


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3.05  EARLY PARALLEL RULES.  Very rare set of navigator's parallel rules of American manufacture.  This scarce hand-made 18th century plotting device has large limbs of fruitwood (pear or apple) consistent with the manufacture of American backstaves of the era.  The connecting swing arms are made of brass, exhibiting slight irregularities typical of one-of-a-kind production.  The 2 limbs measure 17 inches long each and are 1 ¾ inches wide.  The fact that they are 17 inches in length differentiate them from the standard 18 inch English versions.  Also the fact that they are of an indigenous American hardwood and not ebony is telling. International trade in America was in its infancy in the early 1700's.  Importation of exotic materials was very limited requiring "home grown" alternatives.  Excellent original condition showing a wonderful working age patina acquired after more than 250 years.  295


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3.04 NAVIGATOR's  PROTRACTOR.  Patented 19th century American navigational device which consists of a T-square mounted on a long brass arm over which a brass circle with compass rose is mounted.   The circular rose is divided to ¼ points of the compass with the cardinal and intercardinal points identified.  North is designated by a classic flue-de-lis.  The rose is mounted in such a way that it slides the full length of the supporting arm while being able to rotate a full 360 degrees.  The pivot point is off center allowing for cross hairs to pinpoint the precise point on a chart.  This ingenious device is of all brass construction.  It is stamped with maker's mark "J. W. STRANGE Manufacturer, BANGOR, ME."  It is additionally marked"Pat'd June 13. 1876." The long arm measures 16 inches in length and the cross bar 4 ½ inches.  The disc is 4 inches in diameter.  Outstanding original condition with nice golden lacquer surfaces, virtually the same as it was when made 140+ years ago!  A very rare American navigational relic.  389



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3.60 RARE SEXTANT.  "Hoppe's Improved Sextant, LONDON, No. 271."  Very, very early 1800's lattice frame sextant by Ebenezer Hoppe who was a mathematical and optical instrument maker at Edward Street, Limehouse Fields, London, beginning in 1801.  Hoppe's idea was to brace the sextant frame much like the crossed trusses of a bridge, to maintain its rigidity and thus its accuracy.  The beautiful inlaid sterling silver scale on the large arc is marked from -5 – 145 degrees subdivided divided by 15 arc minutes.  The braced brass index arm carries the silver vernier scale calibrated from 0 – 15 arc minutes subdivided to 15 arc seconds.  The attached pivoting magnifier aids in taking a precise reading.  The back of the arm has a positive thumbscrew stop and the vernier has a tangential fine adjustment thumbscrew.  This instrument is complete with both mirror boxes and a full set of 4 index filters and 3 horizon filters.  The backside is equipped with an elegant sculpted rosewood handle and three brass "feet" for positioning in the box.  The index arm is 11 inches long and the large arc is 12 inches wide.  The early style keystone box is constructed of rich African mahogany with telltale very thin dovetail joints.  It contains one functional telescope, 2 partial telescopes and a screw-on sun filter.  Condition of the instrument is remarkable considering it is approximately 220 years old.  The brass surfaces have acquired a deep age patina.  The box is sound, with a few expected age cracks but no damage.   It measures 12 inches high by 13 ½ inches wide and 5 inches thick. The box lock is missing.  The lid bears the partial label of the famous Pacific Northwest chandler, Max Kuner of Seattle.  2149

Ebenezer Hoppe was apprenticed to the renowned early instrument maker Michael Dancer in 1793.  Hoppe died in 1821.  (Gloria Clifton, "Directory of British Scientific Instrument Makers 1550-1852, 1995, Zwemmer, Philip Wilson Publishers, London).


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3.00  EARLY AMERICAN WOODEN SEXTANT.   Rare, American-made wooden sextant with the ivory maker's label reading "B: K: HAGGER & SON, BALTIMORE."  This high quality navigational instrument has limbs of rich ebony with inlaid ivory scales and brass furniture.  The large arc is calibrated from -7 to 134 degrees marked by 5's.  Each degree is subdivided to 20 arc minutes.  The ivory vernier scale mounted on the braced brass index arm is calibrated in single arc minutes from 0 on the right to 20 on the left, providing the navigator with a theoretical accuracy of one nautical mile.  To aid in reading, a pivoting magnifier is attached to the index arm.  A thumbscrew on the rear provides a positive stop while the tangential fine adjustment knob allows an accurate reading.  This superior instrument has both index and horizon mirrors, all 4 index filters and all 3 horizon filers.  The adjustable height sighting tube holder contains a long telescope.  The back is equipped with an early form sculpted rosewood handle, 3 brass "feet," and the apparatus for adjusting the horizon mirror box.  The instrument is double braced both vertically and horizontally for assured accuracy.  The index arm measures 11 inches long and the large arc is 10 ¾ inches wide.  Wooden sextants are very scarce, especially those made by American instrument makers.  Circa1820.  Fine condition.  Make no mistake, this is a "sextant" made from rare ebony wood, predating those in the latter half of the century that were made of brass.  Truly a bargain price for such a museum-quality example.  The appraised value is double or more.  895

Benjamin King Hagger, named after his famous uncle, was born in Boston in 1769.  He began business in instrument making as early as 1784, but certainly by 1789.  In 1816 he moved to Baltimore where he set up business as a nautical instrument maker and ship chandler.  Soon after his son joined him in the business.  In 1834 the elder Hagger died and the firm name changed to Hagger & Brother.  (M.V. Brewington, "The Peabody Museum Collection of Navigational Instruments," 1963, Peabody Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, page128.)


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3.45  OCTANT.   Genuine 19th century octant frame constructed entirely of rare solid ebony.  This frame is complete with all of its wooden parts and a brass insert at the apex for the pivoting index arm.  The reverse side has a receptacle for a trapezoidal inlay of ivory for the navigator to record his observations.  This type of feature is commensurate with earlier instruments.  The frame measures 11 inches tall and 9 ½ inches wide on the large arc.  Circa 1850 or earlier.   A perfect project for the do it your selfer on a minimal budget.   29


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3.98   FINE AMERICAN OCTANT.  Particularly nice, very desireable early American octant with a brass frame made by the earliest makers of such instruments "E. & G. W. Blunt, New York." as hand-engraved on the brass arc.   Circa 1840 or earlier.  This precision navigational instrument has an inlaid silver scale calibrated in degrees from - 4 to 114 divided by 20 arc minutes marked by 5's.  The silver vernier scale reads from 0 to 20, right to left, calibrated down to ½ arc minutes, or 30 seconds.  With the pivoting magnifier this allowed a sighting with an accuracy of approximately 3 nautical miles. Compare that with modern GPS sightings which are accurate within 3 feet!  This handsome instrument has a braced index arm supporting the magnifier and a fine adjust tangent screw.  It is complete with both mirror boxes and a full set of 4 index filters and 3 horizon filters.  The back has its sculpted mahogany handle, mirror adjustment components and 3 brass "feet" for positioning in it box.  This rare octant comes complete in its original classic keystone box made of rich mahogany with age telling slender hand dovetail construction.  It bears the partial label of America's preeminent nautical instrument makers, "THAXTER & SON."  The box is complete with all accessories including 2 sighting tubes and 2 eyepiece filters.  The box retains it original brass box lock and one hook and eye closure.  The instrument measures 9 ¾ inches long on the index arm and 8 ½ inches wide on the large arc.  The box measures 10 1/4 inches long by 10 ¾ inches wide and 5 inches thick.  The entire presentation must be rated as "excellent" in original condition in all respects.  Amazing after more than 180 years!  1495


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3.99  EARLY NOCTURNAL.  18th century seaman's navigational timepiece designed to tell time at night.  This scientific instrument measured the position of the North Star and its relative angle to the Big Dipper to determine time.  That angle changes as the celestial sphere appears to revolve around the North Star with the earth's rotation.  This clever brass device with an iron backing computes the angle as a function of time.  It is obviously hand-made and is of relatively crude construction.  No doubt it was made by a seaman aboard an early sailing vessel.  It is etched with a degree scale on the outer periphery and marked in 20 degree increments on the next scale inward.  Then there's a scale marked with the signs of the Zodiac.  These are followed by a scale with letters denoting months.  Within that scale rotates the inner disc which is marked from 4 P.M. to 12 midnight, then to 8 A.M.  The hour indications are noted by arrows.  Half hours are delineated by shorter lines with dots.  The quarter hours are marked by short lines.  Albeit crude, it was surprisingly accurate given its margin of error of 15 minutes.  The main disc measures 3 7/8 inches in diameter.  The long arm extends 3 inches from center.  Condition is fair.  The top point which extended above the 0 degree mark is worn to a nub.  The finer engraving, such as the outer degree scale is significantly worn in some areas.  Still, such wear is a good indicator of actual use at sea over a long period of time – certainly many decades, if not centuries. SOLD

The nocturnal is a navigational instrument that calculates the time at night to within 10-15 minutes. The outer edge of the instrument is divided into days and months of the year and the inner dial is marked in quarter hour intervals.  When the date was set, the user held it up so that the North Star shown through the central hole.  The arm was then aligned with the constellation known as the Great Bear (the Big Dipper).  The approximate time in 15 minute intervals was then read from the leading edge of the arm where it crossed the inner dial.

Traditional nocturnals were typically fashioned of boxwood and made by professional scientific instrument makers in the 16th through 18th centuries.  Examples are very rare and command prices of $5,000 and up.


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3.96  EARLY NAVIGATOR's PROTRACTOR.  First half of the 1700's precision brass protractor for plotting a ship's course on a chart.  This exceptional instrument is certainly one-of-a-kind, entirely hand-made with the utmost attention to detail.  It features a large brass arc calibrated in single degrees left and right of 0 up to 90 degrees, marked by 10's.  The graduations, though near perfect, show miniscule variations evidenced by the hand-made divisions of this skilled instrument maker.  The baseline has a beveled brass edge with the central pivoting arm extending from 0.  The middle of the arm has an open square with 2 pointed indicators to show the reading extrapolated to ½ degree.  The outer portion of the arm extends to match up with a plotted course.  There are two small holes in the inner arm for making pin pricks in the chart at the appropriate angle.  Evidencing its quality the swing arm has a tensioning follower which secures it to the arc providing a firm, smooth action.  As further evidence of its age, the central screw on the pivoting arm is hand-cut with a fine wedge slot.  The instrument measures 8 ¾ inches across the base and 5 1/8 inches high to the arc.  The protractor arm is 10 ½ inches long.  Excellent original condition in all respects with a very fine statuary bronze age patina.  This is certainly an instrument worthy of the finest nautical or science museum. SOLD

Prior to Jesse Ramsden's reinvention and refinement of the mechanical dividing engine in 1773 all degree scales on instruments were calibrated by hand.  While skilled craftsmen the likes of Jonathan Sisson and John Byrd could use a beam compass to lay out nearly perfect such scales, the method was laborious and time consuming.  Any instrument made before 1773 was calibrated entirely by hand and was therefore unique.


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3.94  BOXED COMPASS.  Extra nice American dory compass made by the famous American nautical chandlers "Wilcox & Crittendon" as indicated by their trademark of an intertwined "WC" in lieu of a fleur-de-lis at the north point.  This handsome little veteran of the sea has a composition card marked with the cardinal and intercardinal points of the compass down to an amazing 1/4 points of the compass rose.  It is also calibrated in 2 degree increments marked by 10's on the periphery, 0 -350.  The single bar magnet has a jeweled pivot.  The interior of the rose bronze compass body has lubber's lines on all 4 quadrants.  The compass is suspended in its bronze gimbal mounted in the all wood pine case in red mahogany finish.  The original sliding lid cover is uniquely secured with a brass chain.  The compass measures a mere 3 inches across and the box is 4 ¾ inches square by 3 ¾ inches high.  Outstanding original condition in all respects the compass card is lively and the compass gimbals properly.  The box is in perfect condition, as clean as they come!  Hard to believe this unit is over 100 years old!  SOLD

The Wilcox Crittendon Manufacturing Company was originally begun by Eldridge and Ira Penfield in 1847 Middletown, Connecticut making metal sail grommets.  William Wilcox was an employee at the time.  The Penfields retired in 1859 and Wilcox gathered his savings to partner with Joseph Hall forming Wilcox and Hall.  Hall retired in 1867.  Two years later three partners, Albert Crittendon, E. Chaffee and Homer Churchill formed the firm of Wilcox & Crittendon Company which continued under that name manufacturing marine hardware until 1955.

(See item 3-67)


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3.93  EARLY AMERICAN OCTANT.   Particularly rare, here is an instrument of the double reflecting  type actually made in the United States before 1830.  Prior to the Federal Period virtually all sextants and octants used by American sailors were imported from England.  This fine example is engraved in script on the index arm "John H. Wheeler, New York."  Of ebony and ivory construction with brass furniture, this high quality instrument exhibits all of the characteristics of its early English forerunners.  The ebony "A" frame has inlaid ivory scales.  The large arc is calibrated from -2 to 99 degrees subdivided to 20 arc minutes, marked by 5's.  The ivory vernier is calibrated from 0 to 20 in single minutes allowing for a reading with that accuracy.  The braced brass index arm has a positive thumbscrew stop and a tangential fine adjust screw.  Indicative of its early origins the instrument has two peep sights, the second being the early-form backsight which had generally lost favor with instrument makers around 1820.  It has a full complement of mirrors and is equipped with 4 interchangeable sun filters.  Another indication of its age is the existence of an ivory pencil and inlaid ivory notepad on the reverse for recording readings.  The back is also equipped with mirror box adjustment apparatus and 3 brass "feet."  The instrument measures 14 inches long on the index arm and 11 ¼ inches wide on the large arc.  It is in excellent original condition complete with all components in a remarkable state of original preservation.  A nice example of early American cutting edge ingenuity nearly 200 years old. SOLD

John H. Wheeler was listed in the New York Directories in 1825 at 218 Water Street.  He claimed he was "a real manufacturer" of instruments.  (M.V. Brewington, "The Peabody Museum Collection of Navigating Instruments," 1963, Peabody Museum, Salem, Massachusetts).


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3.91   NAVIGATOR's RULES.  Spectacular!  An absolutely HUGE set of parallel rules made by England's premier 18th and 19th century scientific instrument makers, "TROUGHTON & SIMMS . LONDON" as marked in the mid-section.  These rules are constructed of rich ebony with brass fittings measuring an amazing 3 feet ¼ inch long by 3 ¼ inches wide!  The set has 3 pivoting brass arms vs. the usual 2.  The size of the individual planks of solid ebony is impressive, particularly in light of the limited world trade in rare woods in the early 1800's.  Condition is outstanding and original in all respects.  One must ponder what type of capital ship would require parallel rules of such massive size?  795  Special Packaging


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3.89   PROTRACTOR & RULE.  Genuine mid 19th century American ship's navigator's chart rule with directional protractor.  This ingenious device was made by "L. MORGAN & SON 650 E. 12. ST. N.Y." as stamped on the silvered brass back plate.  It consists of a heavy rosewood rule with silvered brass edges.  Inset into the middle is a semicircular protractor marked in segments of the compass rose with north at the top, divided east to west in one quarter points .  The protractor rotates to the appropriate course or line of bearing and is locked into placed by the knurled brass knob at the top.  Just above the pivot point the protractor is marked "PAT. JAN. 19 69.  This high quality precision navigational instrument measures 17 inches long by 2 ¼ inches wide on the rule itself.  With the silvered protractor it stands 4 ¼ inches high.  This is a very rare  American navigational instrument of exceptional quality circa 1870 in beautiful original condition.  669


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3.90  IMPRESSIVE COMPASS.  Fabulous very early 1800's American boxed compass made by Wm. Davenport of Philadelphia as signed in beautiful script from east to west..  This exceptionally handsome drycard compass has a compass rose marked in single points of the compass with the cardinal and intercardinal points identified.  Then on the periphery it is marked in single degrees on the 4 quadrants between the cardinal points.  The northpoint is designated by an extremely ornate fleur-de-lis.  Of special note is the fact that the East point is decorated with floral embellishments indicating its early origins.  Speaking to the quality of construction the center pivot has an agate bearing.  The hand-engraved paper card overlays a stiff mica backing with bar magnet below.  The card rides on its central pivot contained in the large brass bowl covered by the original old wavy glass.  The compass body is slung in brass gimbals mounted in its original rich mahogany box measuring 10 inches square and 6 inches high.  This box never had a cover indicating it was used as protected inside the ship as the master direction finder.  1295 Special Packaging

William Davenport was born in 1778 and was apprenticed to Philadelphia instrument maker William Dean.  He took over Dean's business in 1802.  (M. V. Brewington, "The Peabody Collection of Navigating Instruments," 1963, Peabody Museum, Salem, Massachusetts).



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3.87   POCKET COMPASS.   Extra high grade mid-19th century gentleman's pocket compass with the paper card signed "C. H. WHITE BALTIMORE, MD." around the center pivot.  Amazingly the small card is marked down to ½ points of the compass rose with the cardinal and intercardinal points identified and the north point designated with a fancy fleur-de-lis.  The center of the card has a brass pivot.  It is protected by a convex glass dome fitted in the heavy turned brass pocket watch style case with pendant and bow.  Cleverly, the crown acts as a caging mechanism for the compass card, engaging it when depressed and releasing it when lifted.  2 inches in diameter, 5/8 inches thick and 3 inches tall overall.  Outstanding original condition.  The compass is lively and accurate.  One of the finest devices of its type we have ever run across.  Rare! SOLD


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3.88/ 5.04  PATENT NAVY PARALLEL RULES.  Rare 4th quarter of the 19th century navigator's parallel rulers made by John Bliss and Co., in accordance with LCDR Sigsbee's patent.  This beautifully preserved set is made of ebony with brass fittings.  It is uniquely constructed in such a manner so as to allow the limbs of the instrument to fold over the chart and align at a distance from the indicated course.  This allowed the navigator to "hop scotch" across the chart without sliding the rules over the map's surface.  The upper rule is stamped "PAT. FEB.24' 80."  Remarkably, it is preserved within its original cardboard box with label reading "PATENT PARALLEL RULE U.S. NAVY PATTERN JOHN BLISS & CO., Under Patent granted Feb. 24  to Liuet-Comdr, C. D. Sigsbee U.S. NAVY."  The rules are in absolutely perfect original condition measuring 15 inches long by 2 5/8 inches wide.  The original box is 15 ¼ inches long by 3 inches wide and ½ inches thick.  As expected the box shows considerable wear after 140 years.  But the label with minor losses  is still legible.  595

Charles Dwight Sigsbee is best remembered as the Captain of the ill-fated Battleship Maine which exploded in Havana Harbor, Cuba on February 14, 1898, sparking the Spanish-American War.  Following his service as a junior officer in the Civil War Sigsbee was assigned to the Hydrographic Office in 1871, then the Coast Survey in 1874 where he commanded the Coast Survey steamer BLAKE from 1875 to 1878.  He returned to the Navy Hydrographic Office from 1878 to 1882 at which time he invented this unique parallel rule.  He then served as chief hydrographer in the Bureau of Navigation from 1893 to 1897.  During his service on BLAKE he developed the Sigsbee sounding machine, which became a standard item of deep-water oceanographic equipment for the next 50 years.

An identical item "Sigsbee's Patent Parallel Rules No. 272" is held in the collection of the Peabody Museum, Salem, Massachusetts.



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3.85  SAND TIMER.  Classic mid-19th century ship's log timer of standard form with a hand-blown hour glass containing iron filings.  This 14 second glass is in its oaken stand protected by and supported with 4 support columns.  Indicative of its age the one piece glass vial has a pontil on one end a cloth plug on the other.  4 3/4 inches tall by 2 3/4 inches in diameter.  Good, functional condition.  The timer ends show wear and use.  Indentations on the ends indicate it may have been suspended by small lines at one time.  Interestingly, one of the columns appears to be an old shipboard replacement indicative of a good active history.   Rare.  795

The exact origins of sand timers are unclear, although they are generally attributed to the Arab world.  From ancient times the passage of water was used as a measurement of time in "water clocks."  As a follow-on, the "fluid dynamics" of flowing sand was seen to be similar. "By the Middle Ages the sand-glass came into its own and, fragile though it was, this was the first clock which the men who made the great voyages of discovery took with them." (Jean Randier, "Nautical Antiques for the Collector, 1977, Doubleday & Co., New York, page 96). "Dating old sand glasses can be difficult, but the color or tint of the bulbs is a help. The glass was greenish up to about 1700.  During the 18th century it was darker; then in the 19th century it gradually acquired the transparency of crystal.  There were also variations in the actual sand which, prior to about 1720, was reddish or orange-red in color. After about 1720, white or green sand was increasingly used." (Alan Major, "Marine Antiques," 1981, A.S. Barnes & Co., New York, pages 178-179.)  Finally, by the mid-19th century iron filings were preferred due to their density and ease of flow.

In the early days of sail ship's personnel stood watch on deck for a period of 4 hours marked by 8 half hour intervals. Before the advent of reliable mechanical timekeepers, it was the duty of the boatswains mate of the watch or the helmsman to monitor the ship's "watch glass" and announce each of its half hour passages with a successive stroke of the helm bell, one through 8. To this day "ship's bell" clocks mimic this ancient seafaring tradition.

 Mariners have used the log and sand timer for centuries in the method of navigation known as dead reckoning.  The first known description of the log was in A Regiment for the Sea by William Bourne in 1574.   Bourne devised a half-minute sandglass for timing.  At the time, a mile was reckoned to be 5,000 feet, so in 30 seconds at one mile per hour, a ship would travel about 42 feet:

distance in feet = 1 mph x 5,000 feet / 1 mile x 30 seconds s 1 hour/ 3,600 seconds

By 1592 it was understood that a nautical mile was 1/60th of a degree of latitude at the equator.  Slowly maritime nations adapted the new "nautical mile" of 6,000 feet.  Using it in the above formula yields 28.8 seconds for a distance of 8 fathoms or 48 feet.  Accordingly 28-second and 14-second glasses became common navigation equipment.



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3.83  "WOODEN" BOXED COMPASS.  Federal Period 19th century American boxed compass made by "ROBt  MERRILL & SONS * NEW YORK*" as engraved on the paper card.  This first quarter of the 1800's compass has a bowl turned out of wood!  The old style drycard is engraved with a compass rose divided down to ½ points marked by cardinal and intercardinal notations.  It is mounted on its classic mica disc.  North is designated by a fancy fleur-de-lis and the East point is embellished with scrollwork.  The center brass pivot has a quality agate bearing.  The card, measuring 4 inches in diameter, rests in its wooden bowl protected by wavy glass.  The compass body is slung in the old type thin brass gimbals mounted in its dove-tailed pine box.  It measures 5 inches in diameter. The entire presentation is in surprisingly excellent condition for such an early instrument of this type.  The compass is accurate and it gimbals properly within its box. These early wooden bowl compasses are highly desirable.  Due to their construction, few have survived the elements.  This is a GREAT example approximately 200 years old!  Truly a collectors' piece at a very, very reasonable price.  695 Special Packaging



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3.79  VERY EARLY AMERICAN BINNACLE.  First quarter 1800's boat binnacle by the esteemed American makers Samuel Thaxter and his son as indicated around the pivot point of the drycard compass "S. THAXTER & SON. Boston."  This very rare navigational instrument has a heavy solid brass housing.  Within is contained the high grade drycard compass marked in points of the compass rose down to ½ points, with the cardinal and intercardinal points identified.  Speaking to its quality it has an agate bearing in the brass pivot and the card is backed by mica.  Two other significant attributes are its decorated east point, and the fact that the innovative compass bowl is brass and not wood, as used up until about 1820.  We were told by the original owners this compass is dated "1818," but we have not opened the body to confirm.  The compass bowl and its gimbal are supported within the very substantial binnacle housing with glazed viewing port.  The top is fitted with a heavy duty suspension ring for portability.  The side bears an auxiliary lamp for night viewing.  It contains a small font with whale oil burners – again, a testament to its early origins.  The compass measures 5 ½ inches in diameter.  The cast brass binnacle base is 9 ½ inches in diameter and the binnacle stands 11 ½ inches tall exclusive of the ring.  Totally complete and in excellent original condition in all respects, showing its great age.  1179

Samuel Thaxter was born in Hingham, Massachusetts in 1769.  In 1792 he began his business as a ships' chandler and nautical instrument maker at 1 Long Wharf, Boston under the name Samuel Thaxter.  In 1796 he moved to 49 State Street.  The firm name became Samuel Thaxter & Son in 1822, the latest possible date of this compass.  (M.V. Brewington, "The Peabody Museum Collection of Navigating Instruments," 1963, Peabody Museum, Salem, Massachusetts.)

The earliest usage of the compass in the Western world took place during the Crusades from Europe to the Holy Land in the 11th century A.D., and it was during those Crusades east that the Christian cross became symbolic of the "East" point on the compass rose. The tradition of the "decorated East" point remained with mariners until the early 19th century.


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3.80  FIRST of HARPOON LOGs.  Rare, 2nd quarter of the 19th century ship's taffrail log aka "harpoon log" as coined by its inventor, Edward Massey in 1802.  This very early example dates near to the time Masseys' patent expired in 1836.  It is a rare specimen, made of solid brass with a  perfect porcelain dial having 3 registers indicating quarter miles, whole miles and 10's of miles travelled by the ship.  A rotating brass cover protects the dial.  Of note, the original sisal attachment with seizing is still present!  23 inches long overall, inclusive of the line attachment.  The instrument itself measures 18 inches long and 5 inches wide at the fins.  The body is in outstanding original condition in all respects showing good use in a sea environment with nice verdigris but no damage.  The indicators register properly and the fins rotate smoothly.  Bargain priced, as similar logs made 50 years later are selling for this price. 695

"Edward Massey of Newcastle, Staffordshire, in 1802 patented a recording log and sounding machine.  The lot, at least, was tested by the Captain of H.M.S. Donegal in 1805 and found to be an excellent device.  Edward apparently moved to London as a watchmaker at 3 Tysoe Street, Spitalfields about 1826.  An improvement, patent 7113, was made in 1836.  Thereafter all is in confusion as persons named Edward, Thomas senior and junior, E. James and John Edward Massey began to make and sell logs from various address in London, all claiming as late as 1875 to be successors of the original Edward."  (M.V. Brewington, "The Peabody Museum Collection of Navigating Instruments, 1963, Peabody Museum, Salem Massachusetts).

Undoubtedly this log, made identical to Massey's original, is unsigned, and is one of those manufactured to the patent's specifications. The fact that it is unsigned is significant in that it was likely made as a patent infringement!

The harpoon log, invented by Edward Massey in 1802, was a significant improvement over the age old dead reckoning method of determining a ship's speed and distance travelled using a chip log.  In its earliest form a piece of wood was literally thrown over the side and the relative distance from it to the ship was measured.  Hence the term "log."  As later refined, a sailor would throw a triangular-shaped "chip log" off the ship in order to determine the ship's speed.  The line attached to the log was allowed to run out off of a reel for a specific amount of time as measured by a sand glass.  When the sand ran out the line was reeled in.  Then, the length of the line payed out was measured and the time it took were calculated giving the estimated speed of the ship and distance it travelled.

The mechanical taffrail log greatly improved the time/distance calculation because it more accurately recorded the distance traveled by the ship over a longer time, giving a reliable average.



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3.78   1700's QUADRANT.  Large 3rd quarter of the 18 century English navigational instrument known as a "Hadley's Quadrant," later referred to as an "octant."  This imposing device has limbs of rich, almost ebony-like rosewood, with brass furniture and ivory inlays.  The large arc is calibrated in degrees from -4 to 94 in 20 arc minute increments marked by 5's.  The early form "A" type vernier (zero centered) allows a reading to an accuracy of up to one arc minute, equating to about one nautical mile.  The flat brass index arm is the early unbraced form and measures 16 inches in length.  This instrument is complete with both peep sights, 3 mirror boxes and a full set of interchangeable sun filters, all in excellent condition.  Telling of its early age, this quadrant has a back sight feature.  The back sight was obsolete by the 1820's.  It is complete with its rarely-found ivory pencil for recording readings on the trapezoidal ivory note pad on the back.  Remarkably, it comes complete with its stepped pinewood keystone box.  The lid of the box contains the partial label "H. GATTEY, NEW YORK Mathematical, Optical, and Philofophical (sic) Instrument Maker. (from London)"  The box measures 17 inches long by 15 inches wide and 4 inches thick.  Interestingly, many original sighting notations are written on the interior of the box in chalk and in pencil.  Unusually fine condition for an instrument of this age.  Over 240 years old!   There is some wear and minor losses to the box, but overall it is very sound.  The instrument itself is especially nice, totally complete, unmodified original condition.  Circa 1770.   Price Request

Henry Gattey was listed as a Mathematical Instrument maker working at 5 Windsor St., Bishopsgate, London in 1790.   (Gloria Clifton, Dictionary of British Scientific instrument Makers 1550-1851,"1993, Philip Wilson Publishers, London).  Note that this instrument clearly dates before 1790.



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3.77  EARLY TREENWARE COMPASS.   First part of the 1800's navigational compass signed around the pivot "Spencer Browning & Co., Minories, London."  This handsome drycard compass is marked in single points of the compass with the cardinal and intercardinal points identified.  North is designated by a fancy fleur-de-lis and owing to its early origin, East is decorated with floral flourishes.  The central brass pivot is encircled by floral designs as well.  Telling of its age the compass body is turned out of a single piece of solid wood!  The interior is protected by a glazed cover of very early wavy glass held in with old putty.  Even rarer, this compass is complete with its original press-fit lid!  The card itself measures 4 inches in diameter.  The compass body is 5 1/8 inches in diameter and 3 1/8 inches high.  The nicely-turned lid is 6 inches in diameter and seats firmly (in a certain position) onto the body.  Outstanding original condition in all respects.  The compass is still very lively and accurate.  Truly a rare find.  869

Treen is a generic term used to describe small handmade household items and tools that were made from trees.  Bowls, covered containers, snuff boxes, needle boxes and cooking and agricultural tools fall into this category of collecting. While overlooked in the marketplace for many years, 19th century pieces are now being recognized for their rarity and craftsmanship, and are demanding high prices.

The venerable firm of Spencer, Browning & Co. had its beginnings with the famous nautical instrument making firm of Spencer, Browning & Rust formed in 1784 at Wapping, London .  When Mr. Rust passed away in 1840 his name was removed and the firm moved to 111 Minories.

The earliest usage of the compass in the Western world took place during the Crusades from Europe to the Holy Land in the 11th century A.D., and it was during those Crusades east that the Christian cross became symbolic of the "East" point on the compass rose. The tradition of the "decorated East" point remained with mariners until the early 19th century.


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3.76 LOG TIMER.  Scarce, highly sought after authentic mid-19th century ship's sand glass timer used in conjunction with a chip log to determine the ship's speed underway.  This charming example is of 14 seconds duration and has round ends of turned oak with 4 painted pine support columns.  Its simplicity shouts "American," since French and English examples from the era were more ornate and made of exotic woods.  The glass is of one piece, hand-blown construction with a cloth plug in one end.  It contains iron filings, the standard as used in the 1850's.  It measures exactly 3 inches in diameter and 4 ¾ inches tall.  Excellent original condition, fully functional and showing great age but no abuse.  SOLD


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3.14/5.46  U.S. NAVY CLINOMETER.  Authentic World War II fighting ship's pilot house inclinometer made for the Navy by the John L. Chaney Instrument Company.  The face of the Bakelite body is engraved:

CLINOMETER
U.S. NAVY BU-SHIPS
MK IV
1943
JOHN L. CHANEY INSTR. CO.
LAKE GENEVA WISC., U.S.A.


This precision device is calibrated in single degrees of heel port and starboard up to 70 marked by 10's.  The reading is made by a small black ball within a curved glass tube containing fluid.  The fluid acts to dampen (slow) the ball as the ship rolls.  This is exactly the same principle used in an aircraft's turn and bank indicator.  The instrument measures 12 ½ inches wide by 6 ¼ inches high.  It is in excellent original condition, even showing the desirable "real world" remnants of old red and green paint applied by a zealous sailor!  The action of the ball is perfect.  SOLD 



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3.75/5.88  U.S. NAVY INCLINOMETER.  Scarce World War II ship's pilot house clinometer from a U.S. Naval fighting ship.  This "pendulum" heel and list indicator is not nearly as common as the liquid-filled tube and ball type.  The Bakelite body is incised:

"CLINOMETER
U.S. NAVY BU. SHIPS
MK II – MOD. 0
1942
MADE  BY
FEE AND STEMWEDEL. INC.
CHICAGO. ILLINOIS"

It features a blackened solid brass pendulum bob with indicator tip sweeping over a scale divided by single degrees marked by 10's up to 70 degrees port and starboard.  12 inches wide by 7 inches high.  Excellent original condition showing good age but no damage.  The pendulum swings freely and is very accurate.  395


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3.74   BOXED COMPASS by the INVENTOR.   Extra nice 19th century American boxed compass by the inventor of the liquid-filled compass Edward S. Ritchie.  The rim of this high quality compass is marked "E. S. RITCHIE BOSTON," with serial number "29824."   This early liquid compass has a domed float in the center surrounded by an impregnated composition cloth card marked with the cardinal and intercardinal points of the compass rose.  The periphery of the card is also marked in 5 degree increments by 10's, 0 – 35.  The North point is designated by a classic fleur-de-lis.  The body of the compass is solid brass, heavily weighted at the bottom to remain upright within its gimbal.  All serial numbers match.  The entire unit is mounted in its original sturdy mahogany box with all brass furniture.  The lid is secured by two brass hooks.  The compass measures 5 ¼ inches in diameter.  The box is 7 ¼ inches square and 6 inches high inclusive of the lid.  Excellent original condition.  The card is very lively and accurate.  The compass and gimbal ring are high luster brass.  The box, in its original finish, shows alligatored surfaces with some disruption to the finish of the lid, but no damage.  An impressive early American boxed compass of unexcelled quality. SOLD

Edward Samuel Ritchie was born in 1814.  In 1839 he established a hardware business in Boston, Massachusetts with a partner forming the firm of Palmer & Ritchie.  From 1842-1849 he ran a nautical chandlery in New Bedford.  In1850 Ritchie began his scientific instrument making career with Nathan Chamberlain as his partner.  By 1862 his company was known as Edward S. Ritchie & Co. and in 1867 the firm name became E.S. Ritchie & Sons, Boston.  Ritchie is credited with inventing the first practical liquid-filled compass in 1860.  He produced a compass for the famed Civil War iron clad USS MONITOR in 1861 and was awarded his first patent for the invention on September 9, 1862.   He went on to produce thousands of compasses for the U.S. Navy.

In 1886 Ritchie moved from Boston to nearby Brookline, Massachusetts.  Being marked "Boston" indicates this compass pre-dates the move to Brookline.  Of note, the first compass Marked "E.S. Ritchie & Sons" was serial numbered 100336, over 70,000 numbers later than the one offered here.

The elder Ritchie died in 1895, but his sons carried on the business, which still survives today as E. S. Ritchie & Sons, Inc. Pembroke, Massachusetts.

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3.68  MINIATURE COMPASS.  Authentic mid-19th century navigational compass made for the English speaking market.  This diminutive nautical compass has an engraved paper card overlaid on mica with a central brass/agate pivot.  The compass rose is marked in points of the compass down to ½ points, with the cardinal and intercardinal points identified.  North is marked by a classic fleur-de-lis.  It rests in its heavily weighted brass bowl with wavy glass cover housed within the knurled bezel.   The inside of the bowl is marked with a vertical lubber's line.  The compass is complete with its original brass gimbal ring, swinging freely and accurately.  The card itself measures 3 inches in diameter.  The compass bezel is 3 ½ inches across and the gimbal is 4 ½ inches wide.  Excellent original condition throughout noting toning at the north and south points where the internal bar magnet is attached.  This compass, without a box, is ideal for mounting in a project in need of such a component like an empty binnacle or display.  Circa 1870.  149


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3.81  MARINER's QUADRANT.  Very rare, highly desirable 18th century navigational device known as a quadrant, or alternatively "octant."  This early example is patterned after John Hadley's double reflecting quadrant first introduced in 1731.  It is an extraordinary instrument which has limbs of mahogany with brass furniture and a finely engraved boxwood scale inlaid into the large arc.  The scale is divided from 0 to 90 degrees, or one quarter of a circle, hence the designation "quad"rant.  The degrees are marked by 5's.  Each degree is sub-divided into 20 arc minute segments, with diagonal lines cutting across 10 concentric circles.  With this arrangement the index arm and its ivory "line of faith" can provide a reading to an accuracy of 2 arc minutes, interpolated to 1 arc minute.  Below the diagonal scale is a second linear scale divided into single degrees and subdivided to 20 arc minutes.  These precise divisions are quite remarkable considering they were hand-done, before the advent of the mechanical dividing engine!  To attain such accuracy the instrument was necessarily large.  The index arm is slightly over 18 1/2 inches in length and the scale is 15 inches wide.  The quadrant is equipped with an index mirror and horizon mirror, a set of three pivoting filters, and a peep sight with pivoting shade.  It has a blank ivory nameplate in the cross brace.  On the reverse are three brass "feet" and the horizon mirror box adjusting assembly.  The index arm stop is a single brass thumb screw.  There is no fine adjustment feature on these early instruments.  Condition is remarkably excellent for a working device which saw sea service over 260 years ago!  A true museum piece! Price Request

The search for "The longitude" in early 18th century England was encouraged by the Board of Longitude which offered a massive prize of £30,000 for the solution.  It spurred much innovative interest in celestial navigation.  In May 1731 John Hadley, an English mathematician, presented a paper to his fellow members of the Royal Society in London describing the use of a double reflecting quadrant or "octant."  His quadrant was based on the principle of light reflection and angles of incidence that were described by Robert Hooke, Isaac Newton, and Edmund Halley in the previous century.  The principle is that when the angle described by an observed celestial object is seen through a double reflection, that angle is condensed in half between the two reflecting surfaces.  Thus Hadley's quadrant, reading to 90°, had an arc of only 45°, or one eighth of a circle, making it an "octant."  Basically the instrument consisted of a triangular wooden frame with a swinging index arm pivoted at the apex.  A mirror was fixed at that point which would move with the arm.  A second mirror, half of which was transparent so that the user could view the horizon, was fixed to one limb and a sight was attached to the opposite limb.  A precise scale, calibrated in degrees, was scribed on the arc of the bottom limb of the triangle, across which the index arm moved.  This continued to be the basic form of angle measuring navigational instruments for the next 250 years, and still remains, even with the advent of GPS!
    
Quite independently of Hadley, Thomas Godfrey, a Philadelphia glazier and an acquaintance of Benjamin Franklin, devised an improved altitude measuring device based on the same principle over a year earlier.  The instrument was tested in the Sloop TRUEMAN on a voyage to Jamaica and Newfoundland from 1730-1731.  The Royal Society recognized the equal contributions of both men and awarded them a prize of £200 each.  Godfrey also received a prize from the Board of Longitude (of chronometer fame) for his work.  However it was Hadley who received the most credit for the invention.

The improvements in navigation of the Hadley quadrant or "octant" as it came to be known, over previous instruments was immense.  Not only was it more accurate, it provided simplicity of operation and the ability to "capture" the object being sighted for rapid, multiple sightings.  The merits of the quadrant were immediately noticed by the British Admiralty and it was quickly put into commercial production.  Even so, the instrument did not find popular acceptance and general use amongst traditionally minded mariners until after 1750.

The earliest Hadley quadrants, like backstaves, were constructed of walnut or other indigenous woods, with the scales being engraved on boxwood (although examples on brass do exist). With the discovery and growing importation of exotic woods such as African mahogany around 1750, the use of mahogany was quickly implemented, gradually giving way to the exclusive use of ebony and ultimately brass.

From the article "Evolution of the Sextant" by Rod Cardoza
http://westsea.com/captains-log/evolutionofthesextant.html


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3.66  DAVIS QUADRANT.  Very rare, highly sought after authentic late 17th century or very early 18th century mariner's navigational device known as a Davis Quadrant or alternatively "Backstaff."  The backstaff name was given to the instrument which measured the altitude of the sun as projected by its shadow on a scale held by the observer with his back to the sun.  The idea for measuring the sun's altitude using back observations originated with Thomas Harriot.  Many such instruments evolved from the earlier crosstaff, but only the Davis quadrant (1594) remained dominant in the evolution of navigational instruments.  As such, the Davis quadrant is synonymous with the backstaff.   This ancient maritime instrument is made of two hardwoods, one being rare boxwood (prized for its homogeneous grain) for the scales and the other a fruitwood such as pear or apple for the sturdy limbs.  It bears two engraved arc scales.  The large arc is calibrated with the early form diagonal scale reading in degrees left to right 0 - 25 calibrated in 20 arc minute segments, marked by 5's and further divided  to 2 arc minutes on the diagonal scale.  The small arc reads from 0 degrees at the top down to 62 degrees divided by single degrees and marked by 5's.  The back edge of the arc is also calibrated in degrees from 0 - 60 marked by 5's.  The observed altitude comprised the sum of the readings of the two scales.  This instrument is unusually well-decorated with inlaid brass diamonds at the joints and a myriad of stars, fleur-de-lis and herringbone designs.  These all harken back to the time when such an instrument was considered a work of art in addition to being utilitarian.  This example retains its rarely-found horizon vane.  The scales and the vane show evidence of worming that was prevalent in 18th century Europe. This is actually a good sign of its age.  The limbs of this instrument are free of such worming, indicating the construction of two different woods.  There is a large blank ivory maker's plate inlaid near the brace.  25 inches long on the longest limb.  14 ¼ inches wide on the large arc by ¾ inches thick.  The horizon vane is exactly 5 inches wide and 2 inches high.  Definitely a museum piece! Price Request

Captain John Davis invented his version of the backstaff in 1594.  However, Davis was neither the first nor the last to design such an instrument.  Davis was a navigator who was familiar with the instruments of his day such as the mariner's astrolabe, quadrant and backstaff.   Noting the drawbacks of the various instruments to date, he proposed a new instrument which could reduce the inherent shortcomings and increase the ease and accuracy by which a navigator could obtain a solar sighting.  This is such an example.



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3.57  EARLY SEXTANT.  Particularly nice mariner’s sextant of English manufacture dating from the second quarter of the 19th century.   The large arc is engraved “Youle 83 Leadenhall St. London.”  This all brass navigational instrument is of early form with an inlaid silver scale calibrated from -5 to 150 degrees subdivided in 15 arc minute increments, marked by 10’s.  The silver vernier inset into the braced index arm allows a reading with an accuracy of    arc seconds.  To aid in taking the reading a pivoting magnified is provided.   The classic “T” frame is cast brass in its original blackened finish (to prevent glare during sun shots).  This instrument retains both index and horizon mirrors and a full set of 4 index filters and 3 horizon filters, all in excellent condition.   The back is equipped with its sculpted mahogany handle and 2 brass “feet” for alignment in the box.  The sight tube holder has an adjustable height feature and accommodates all 5 sight tubes.  These consist of the long telescope with cross hairs, short telescope, night telescope, peep sight and interchangeable tube for varying the power of the long telescope.  The screw-on eyepiece sun filer is present as is the rarely-found adjusting screw driver.  Its presence indicates the care lavished on it by its owner Captain.  All components are housed in the especially lovely keystone mahogany case with fine dovetailed construction.  Amazingly, there are no cracks in the lid and it bears the trade label of the famous American instrument makers and ships’ chandlers “T. S. & J.D. Negus, New York.”  The case has all brass hardware including 2 hook and eye closures, the original lock and the brass escutcheon!  The instrument itself measures 11 inches wide on the large arc and the index arm is 10 inches long.  The box measures 13 inches wide by 11 inches long and is 4 ½ inches thick.  This offering is totally complete and in exceptionally fine, untouched, original condition.  Truly museum quality.  1095

William Youle was listed at 83 Leadenhall Street, London in 1845 as a spectacle maker as well as a  mathematical and philosophical instrument maker.  (Gloria Clifton, “”British Scientific Instrument Makers 1550-1851,” 1995, The National Maritime Museum, Philip Wilson Publishers, London.)



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3.49  VERY RARE SEXTANT.  Truly the Rolls Royce of navigational instruments!  This double frame (also known as a “pillar frame”) sextant was made by “Henry Hughes & Son Ltd 59 Fenchurch St London” as engraved on the large arc.  This type of sextant was invented by the renowned English instrument maker Edward Troughton in 1788.  So functional and so precise was its construction that the form lasted well over a century!  This amazing example is all brass meticulously fashioned with over 250 tiny parts, each individually hand-made in the old school tradition.  All of the parts bear the hidden production number “40” and marks to align the one-of-a-kind hand-made fittings.  Above the signature is the inscription “Platina & Gold 4927” indicating the large scale is engraved on platinum and the vernier scale is solid gold!  The arc is calibrated in single degrees divided by 10 arc minutes from -5 – 160 effectively making this a “quintant.”  The magnificent solid gold vernier scale is marked from 0 – 10 divided to single arc seconds.*  To accomplish such a reading a sophisticated pivoting vernier magnifier with glass light diffuser is provided above the scale.  This is the most complicated device of its type we have ever seen, and we have seen literally hundreds.  The high luster solid brass frame is a piece of jewelry.  It mounts the index arm with thumbscrew stop and endless tangent fine adjustment.  The apex has the index mirror reflecting into the split horizon mirror.  This instrument is complete with its full complement of 4 folding index filters and 3 horizon filters.  The height adjustable sighting tube holder operates smoothly by means of a large knurled thumbscrew on the reverse.  The reverse also has a sculpted lignum vitae handle and 3 brass “feet” for mounting in it box.  The handle is fitted with a brass receptacle which would have allowed the sextant to be mounted on a stanchion for taking hydrographic sightings.  The sextant is complete in its original hand-dovetailed mahogany box of exceptional size.  It contains 4 sighting tubes, a screw-on eyepiece filer and a unique revolving eyepiece filer with 6 interchangeable settings.  There is also a mirror box adjusting wrench.  In the lid is the Certificate of Examination from the National Physical laboratory indicating “Class A” with matching “No. 4920” dated “1903.”  The box has all brass furniture with two hefty closure hooks, a substantial folding brass handle and a brass label stamped “S NO. 4920.” The sextant measures 11 ½ inches on the large are and the index arc is 10 ¼ inches long.  The box is 12 by 13 inches and 5 ½ inches thick.  This is perhaps the finest instrument of its type we have had the pleasure of offering.  Price Request


* One minute of arc along the equator equals one nautical mile (1.151 stature miles). An arc second, or one sixtieth of a minute equates to 98 feet. It is unlikely that as navigator could manually take such a precise sighting. But it is altogether possible that a sighting with a margin of error of 1/4 mile could be made.

One of the greatest concerns of the nautical instrument makers throughout history has been accuracy.  Because of the severe conditions and weather extremes encountered at sea, a poorly constructed instrument was apt to shrink, expand, warp, or crack rendering a false, potentially fatal reading.  Numerous materials and innovations were tried in an attempt to ensure rigidity and stability of octants and sextants.  To address the problem, perhaps the most famous of these innovations was the pillar frame sextant patented by Edward Troughton in 1788.  The frame was constructed of two parallel strips of sheet brass joined together by machined pillars secured with screws, much like the trusses incorporated in the newly-constructed iron bridges of the time.  This "double frame" sextant was produced by a few top makers using slight modifications for more than one hundred years thereafter.  A variation of the double frame was the "bridge frame" sextant made by Ramsden and a few other makers late in the 18th century. Examples of both forms of these early sextants are quite scarce and highly sought after by collectors.

* One minute of arc along the equator equals one nautical mile (or 1.151 statute miles).  An arc second, or one sixtieth of a minute, equals 98 feet.  It is unlikely that a navigator could manually take such a precise sighting.  But it is altogether possible that a sighting with margin of error of ¼ mile could be made.

Provenance.

The history of an item has a significant impact on its value.  In that regard this instrument has a very interesting past.

The Russo-Japanese War, 1904 – 1905, was fought between Imperial Russia and the Empire of Japan over their colonial ambitions in Manchuria and Korea.   Russia had long sought a warm water port on the Pacific Ocean.   Since the end of the first Sino-Japanese War in 1895, Japan feared Russian encroachment on its plans to create a sphere of influence in Korea and Manchuria.  Seeing Russia as a rival, Japan offered to recognize Russian dominance in Manchuria in exchange for recognition of its dominance in Korea.  But Russia refused, choosing to go to war after negotiations broke down in 1904.  The Japanese Navy preemptively started the war with a surprise attack on the Russian Fleet in Port Arthur, China.

The war ended in 1905 with Japan’s total victory affirmed by the Treaty of Portsmouth mediated by President Theodore Roosevelt.   The decisive Japanese outcome resulted in a reassessment of Japan's position on the world stage.  It was the first major defeat of a European power by an Asian country.  It is obvious from the dating of this instrument that it was purchased for use in that war.  The original certificate of examination and correction, in Japanese, by the Tamaya company is included.

In 1901, during Japan’s Meiji period (1868 – 1912) the venerable Tamaya Megane-ten optical business was incorporated and renamed Tamaya Shoten.  Tamaya was the first Japanese company to import surveying equipment from abroad and sell it in Japan.  It was also the first company to produce surveying equipment.  By the end of the Meiji era, Tamaya had developed its own transit and level.  During the Taisho era (1912 – 1926), Tamaya began producing surveying equipment made in Japan, relying less on finished products imported from abroad.  It was making levels and theodolites, and by 1922 it made the first Japanese sextant.

Then of equal significance is the fact that this instrument was used in World War II by the Japanese Imperial Navy fighting the United States.  The front of the box bears testament to this fact “From TOKYO, JAPAN +” indicating it was shipped back to the United States as a war prize by veteran Floyd Colvin.


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3-42

3.42    NAVIGATOR’s RULES.   A very nice example of late 19th century rolling parallel rules made by the well-known English maker “J.A. Nicholl & Co.” as impressed in the top of the rule.  This substantial, highly accurate navigational instrument is made of brass with a boxwood body.  It consists of a heavy brass axel connected to knurled rollers on each end.  These move freely allowing the rules to run over the face of a chart parallel to the course line.  To assist the navigator in plotting, knurled brass knobs are provided on each end of the rules.  This precision device is housed in its high quality mahogany box with machine dovetailing and interior felt supports.  Two brass hook and eye closures insure the contents are secure.  The rules measure 18 inches long by 2 ½ inches wide.  Unlike trapezoidal parallel rulers, the extent of this ruler’s travel is endless.  The box measures 19 inches long by 3 ¼ inches wide and 1 7/8 inches thick.  Outstanding original condition in all respects.  249

J. A. Nicholl worked from 1848-1901+.  In 1865 his address was 42 Stanhope Street, London and from 1885 onward it was 153 High Holborn, London WC.  He was known to have made and sold protractors.  (Gloria Clifton, “Dictionary of British Scientific Instrument Makers 1550-1851,”



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3.38   RARE SURVEYING SEXTANT.  Most important, very high quality marine navigational sextant which also served as an astronomical and hydrographic survey instrument.  This magnificent all brass precision instrument is signed on the large arc “Cary, London 2842 Gold & Platina.”  The large arc is calibrated in single degrees from -5 to 150 degrees divided by 10 arc minutes, effectively making it a quintant.  The scale is beautifully engraved on solid gold overridden by a platinum vernier scale.  The division of the vernier from 0 -10 allows for a reading to an accuracy of 10 arc seconds.  Interestingly the sheet brass frame is very similar to the one invented by Edward Troughton in the 1780’s, in that it is secured to a second frame by screws for rigidity and accuracy. This amazing instrument has many unusual cutting edge features.  The index arm stop and the fine adjust tangent screw are spring loaded, allowing a much smoother reading.  To take the reading there is a small adjustable magnifier built into the index arm, as well as a small frosted glass window mounted just above the magnifier to provide maximum lighting for the reading.  Above the magnifier, mounted to the index arm, is a bubble level which can be locked into place or allowed to swing free indicating the plane of the earth, also known as an artificial horizon.  This sextant is equipped with its full set of 4 colored glass index filers and 3 horizon filters for viewing in different atmospheric conditions.  Both the index and horizon mirrors are in place and functional.  Attesting to Cary’s attention to minute detail, both are equipped with pin-adjusted screws which are covered by threaded knurled caps!  This sextant has an adjustable height eyepiece operated  by a knurled knob on the reverse.  The eyepiece supports a long telescopic sighting tube which fits nicely into the holder with a bayonet twist.  The back side of the sextant frame has 3 brass “feet” and a rosewood handle reinforced with brass.  But there its commonality with other fine sextants is surpassed.  It is mounted, through its handle to an exceptionally heavy and well-machined tripodal stand.  The stand is signed “G. LEE & SON, THE HARD, PORTSMOUTH.”  It is equipped with 3 knurled leveling screws on a folding base mounted with a support much like a library telescope.  At the top is a revolving platform with a tangent locking screw and fine adjust stop.  These are for precisely orientating the instrument to the heavens.  The tilt of the sextant fore and aft is accomplished by 2 pivoting levers attached to the stand.  Each is attached to a brass-encased lead counterweight.   The action is flawless!  The sextant itself measures 10 ¾ inches wide on the large arc and 10 ½ inches on the index arm.  It stands 18 inches high and 10 ¼ inches wide on the base.  Circa 1820.  Absolutely outstanding condition.   As rare as it gets.  Museum quality.  Price Request

The Cary name was highly revered in the late 18th and early 19th century scientific community in England.  William Cary began business as an optician and nautical instrument maker on the Strand, London in 1789.  He partnered with John Cary (I) in 1791.  John Cary (II) was William’s nephew who partnered with George Cary to form the famous globe making firm. William died in 1825.

George Lee was a maker in the early 19th century who enjoyed a Royal appointment as maker to the Crown.



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3.30  MINIATURE SEXTANT.   Truly extraordinary, if not completely unique, 2nd quarter 1800’s midshipman’s sextant (aka lifeboat sextant) made by the highly revered early English maker William Cary as beautifully hand-engraved on the large silver arc “Cary, London 968.”   This amazing instrument is actually a semi circumferentor having a scale divided to a full 180 degrees of arc, sub-divided to 20 arc minutes!   This was a spectacular feat of precision engineering at the time, attesting to Cary’s genius.  It was not attempted by any of his contemporaries even on larger more easily calibrated instruments.  This pristine all brass instrument is in its original blackened finish. The tangent fine adjust knob works in consort with the knurled index arm stop. The large scale is overridden by the index arm vernier scale calibrated to provide a reading down to an accuracy of an amazing 20 arc seconds!  This was virtually unheard of for an instrument of its size at the time.  It is a cutting age accomplishment literally akin to the moon exploration more than 125 years later!   The index arm is equipped with an adjustable magnifier to view the reading.  This compact navigational instrument has both index and horizon mirrors and a height adjustable sight holder which accommodates 3 telescopes housed in its box.   Incredibly, 2 index filters and 2 horizon filers are also provided.  On the reverse it has a sculpted solid ebony handle and 3 positioning “feet.”   This diminutive instrument measures  a mere 5 ¼ inches wide on the broad arc and 4 ½ inches long on the index arm.  It is housed in its original rich African mahogany box with very fine hand-dove tailed construction measuring 5 ½ inches square by 3 ¼ inches thick.  It is complete with all three sighting tubes and 2 eye piece filters.  Incredibly the box lock is complete with its original skeleton key!  Within the lid are two original labels.  The first is by “HENRY PORTER Successor to the Late W. CARY.”  The second is a hand-inked label dated 1888 indicating the correction of the index error in June 1888.  This extraordinary presentation is worthy of the finest world class museum.  In fact it must ultimately go to a museum as the trail of its past dictates.  We are all caretakers of our prized possessions, but not owners in perpetuity.  3900

William Cary was a patriarch of the family of instrument makers in England which brought that country to world prominence in the early 1800’s.  Born in 1759, Cary apprenticed to the premier 18th century instrument maker, Jesse Ramsden.  Cary began his own practice in 1789 at 277 The Strand, London.  In 1821 he moved to 181 The Strand where the business flourished thereafter.  In partnership with his brother John, William produced some of the finest and most highly sought after antique globes sold today.  The signature J & W Cary is a mark of excellence in the current marketplace.  William Cary died in 1825.  But his apprentice Henry Porter carried on the firm in his master’s name.  Owing to the quality and execution of the finest details of this superior instrument, it is our opinion that this sextant is indeed by the hand of the master, William Cary, as signed “Cary, London.”  Inasmuch as Porter’s trade label in the lid states “Apprentice and Successor to the Late W. Cary,” surely this instrument dates very close to or prior to Cary’s demise.

Such miniature sextants were popular as functional but very expensive novelties during the second quarter of the 19th C.  Many were awarded as prizes for superior performance by their recipients in navigational academies of the time.  Other well known makers such as Troughton & Simms produced a nominal amount of such quality instruments at the time.  (See item 3.92) 



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3.18  AZIMUTH INSTRUMENT.  Genuine, highest quality ship’s navigational instrument made by the esteemed American makers, “NEGUS NEW YORK” as stamped on the bed plate and again on the maker’s tag on the box.  This precision instrument is all brass with a blackened finish.  It has an optical quality glass prism which rotates via two knurled brass knobs.  Designed to be set atop the ship’s main steering compass in a binnacle, it has a magnifier set in a tube below the prism to enhance the current compass reading while at the same time providing an image of the sun or celestial body.  Two pivoting sun shades are provided for looking at the former.  A removable “line-of-sight” pole is provided, as is a bubble level for assuring totally accurate level readings.  This instrument fits the top of a standard size 8 inch Navy magnetic compass.  It measures 9 ¼ inches long by 3 3/8 inches wide and 8 ¾ inches high with the removable vertical post.  Absolutely mint, untouched, original factory condition in its original dove-tailed wooden box with brass hardware measuring 10 1/4 by 7 ½ inches by 5 ½ inches thick. 199

Primarily used to determine LAN (Local Apparent Noon) the azimuth instrument is an effective tool for determining the ship’s latitude by measuring the sun’s altitude at the exact time of meridian passage.

The Negus firm first appeared in the New York City directories at 84 Wall Street in 1850.  Thomas Stewart was trained as a chronometer maker in England and began working with his brother, John David in 1848, first under the name of Thos. S. Negus & Co.   During the Civil War the firm moved to 100 Wall Street and the name changed to T.S. & J.D. Negus.  The business of chronometer and navigational instrument making continued to grow, causing them to move to 69 Pearl Street in 1875.   From the Civil War onward, Negus enjoyed the patronage of the U.S. Navy as the suppliers of chronometers and other navigational equipment.   By the early 1900’s T.S. & J.D. Negus had established themselves as the leading nautical instrument makers and chandler in the United States.  In 1962 the firm was purchased by Max Low & Co.  Low found success in providing the government with navigational instruments, clocks and deck watches during World War II.  Max Low’s son, Charles, continued the business in New York through the 1980’s when the firm was finally dissolved.



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3.03 EARLY AMERICAN NAUTICAL COMPASS. Really exceptional maritime compass of unusally small size produced by the short-lived American scientific and nautical instrument making firm of “FRYE & SHAW * NEW YORK*” as hand-engraved around the pivot of the compass card. This high quality functional ship’s compass has a paper over mica drycard compass rose marked in single points of the compass with the cardinal and sub-cardinal pointes identified. North is designated by a classic fleur-de-lis. The brass pivot is of conical form reminiscent of compasses dating back to the 17th century! Also in keeping with tradition, the East point is embellished with yet another fleur-de-lis. The card is housed in the weighted brass bowl slung in gimbals mounted in its heavy brass cylindrical housing complete with the original press-fit knurled brass lid. The compass is very lively, accurate, and gimbals properly. The presentation measures 3 5/8 inches in diameter and 2 inches thick with the lid. Condition is absolutely outstanding and original, in all respects. Totally original. This is a sweetheart of an offering, worthy of any museum. Not esspcially cheap, but offered here before inflation. Worth every penny. Try to find another! 888

Adington D. Frye and Robert Ludlow Shaw formed a partnership which was listed in the New York City Directories as mathematical instrument makers at 222 Water Street in 1837 and 1838. The New York State Directory lists the firm in operation from 1840-1845. (Charles E. Smart, “The Makers of Surveying Instruments in America Since 1700,” 1962, Regal Art Press, Troy, NY).

The decorated east point on the compass rose found its beginnings in the early Crusades as warriors battled their way East in search of the Cross. Early compasses were embellished with a cross on the east point reminding Crusaders of their goal. As time went on the cross gave way to a more secular embellishment, but the tradition of a “decorated” east point continued for centuries, finally falling out of favor with compass makers in the early 1800’s.



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3.97 NAVIGATOR’s PARALLEL RULES. A large and important set of ship’s navigators chart rulers from the early part of the 1900’s. This impressive set made of Bakelite with brass fittings measures 24 inches long by 3 1/4 inches wide, making it one of the biggest ever made!  It is signed “H. HUGHES & SON LTD” on the left end and “MADE IN GREAT BRITAIN” on the right.  Of special interest, due to its size, it has 3, not the typical 2 brass connecting arms.  Following the invention of Capt. Fields, it is marked as a protractor with 90 and 270 at the center, radiating to 360 on the left and 180 on the right end.   The lower limb is marked with “NESW, S and SENW” respectively.   The action is tight and precise.  Very handsome original condition.  The rich brown tone of the Bakelite nicely enhances the yellow gold of the brass.  A rare signed example which charted the way for many a successful voyage! 295



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3.92  RARE HISTORIC MINIATURE SEXTANT.   Truly extraordinary, mid-1800s presentation sextant made by one of England’s most elite makers!  This delightful little instrument is signed on the large arc in perfect hand-engraved script, Troughton & Simms, London.”  Of all brass construction with a V-shaped frame, the sextant has an inlaid silver arc reading from -5 to 160 degrees, effectively making it a quintant.  Incredibly, these divisions along with the vernier scale on the index arm, allow this sextant to match the accuracy of it larger cousins, down to 20 arc seconds!  A pivoting magnifier is provided for taking the reading.  The index arm has a miniaturized version of a thumb screw stop and tangential fine adjust.  The sextant is complete with its 2 horizon filters and 2 index filters in perfect condition.  The index mirror and horizon mirror are in beautiful condition.  The whole presentation is totally complete in its shaped rich mahogany box.  The octagonal ebony handle screws into the frame with a secure fit.  There are two optics, a peep and a telescope which fit into the height-adjustable sight holder.  Rounding out the accessories, there are both sight tube filters, mirror adjustment tool, and the functional skeleton key for the brass lock.  Of monumental importance for its value and appeal is the beautifully-hand-engraved  presentation on sterling silver inlaid into the top of the box.  It reads, Presented at the Public Examination on the 13th of June 1851 to Gentleman Cadet, Henry Goodwyn by the Honble Court of Directors of the East India Company, as a mark of the Courts approbation of his attainments in Mathematics while at the Military Seminary.”  The overall presentation is nothing short of phenomenal for an instrument 166 years old!  Totally complete and virtually in the same condition when it was made.   All surfaces are in their original bright brass lacquer finish.  This is a nautical gem of the highest order, if ever there was one!  Most certainly worthy of the finest world class collection and/or museum.  5350

The East India Company, also known as the Honourable East India Company or the British East India Company was formed to pursue trade with the "East Indies" (present-day Southeast Asia), but ended up trading mainly with Qing China and controling the Indian subcontinent.

Originally chartered as the "Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies", the Company accounted for half of the world's trade  in basic commodities such as cotton, silk, indigo dye, salt, saltpeter (for gun powder), tea, and opium. The Company was also instrumental in the founding of the British Empire in India.

The Company received a Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth I on December 31, 1600, making it the oldest among several similarly formed European East India Companies. Wealthy merchants and aristocrats owned the Company's shares, but the government owned no shares and had only indirect control.

During its first century of its operation, the Company's focus was on trade, not the building an empire in India. But early in the 18th century when the Mughal Empire began to decline, Company interests turned from trade to territory as the East India Company competed with its counterpart, the French East India Company.
By 1803, at the height of its rule in India, the Company had a private army of about 260,000, twice the size of the British Army! The Company eventually came to rule large areas of India with its private armies, exercising military power and assuming administrative functions.  Company rule in India effectively began in 1757 and lasted until 1858. But following the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the resulting Government of India Act 1858 led the British Crown to assume direct control of the Indian subcontinent in the form of the new British Raj.

Despite frequent governmental intervention, the Company's on-going financial problems finally led to its dissolution in 1874.



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