This Fine Instrument Has Been Sold, Thank You!
FAMOUS AMERICAN 19 TH CENTURY INSTRUMENT MAKER! LOW
Presented is a historic piece of American maritime history. An early
sextant made by Stackpole & Brother, Serial Number 337, likely around 1853 -55. It is in remarkably good condition
with all its parts except for one small adjustment needle that can be replaced. The end butted case is original showing repairs,
and the wear of 150 years. But considering its use is not in all that bad shape though the lock and key are missing,
and some wood has split with age. The index mirror shows some crackling. It has a unique adjustment which seems to allow
the mirror to rotate up and down. The horizon mirror has little corrosion. In addition to the telescope there is a sighting
The arc reads from 0 to + 110 degrees in
1 minute increments. The silver vernier is left reading from 0 to 20 providing a reading accuracy down to 3 arc
seconds. Over the vernier is a swinging magnifier. The handle is Ebony. Beneath the maker's name is engraved U.S.N. There
is no evidence that this sextant was ever painted or polished. It is documented that the Stackpole firm made instruments for
the Union Army during the Civil War, and was a supplier of sextants to the U.S. Navy. Note the Serial Number 337 in the picture
below at the top center of the arc over "Brother".
Within the lid is the old label of "Eugene F. Medinger &
Son Dealers in CHRONOMETERS, and Nautical Instruments at 115 Broad Street, New York" stating "All kinds of Nautical Instruments
Repaired in the best manner".
HISTORY: William Stackpole was born in Ireland in 1819. He died in Brooklyn, New York
in 1895. Robert Stackpole was born in Ireland in 1823 and died in Brooklyn in 1873. Both William and Robert came
to Baltimore, Maryland with their parents in 1833. While there, William was apprenticed to a manufacturer of mechanical
engineering instruments. The Stackpole's settled in New York City in 1843. New York city directories list:
William Stackpole, mathematical instruments, from 1843 to 1848. In 1851 Robert Stackpole joined his brother William
in business under the firm name of Stackpole and Brother (1851 to 1910).
Reference: Smart, Charles E. The Makers Of Surveying Instruments In America Since
1700 Troy, New York: Regal Art Press. 1962
Stackpole is also listed in Webster's Instrument Maker's Database.
What the Smithsonian Institution has to say:Sextant
by Stackpole & Brother early 1870s
American mathematical instruments come into their own: The
makers of this sextant, William and Robert Stackpole, boasted that they had "made nearly all the sextants required by our
Navy." The Stackpole brothers were Irish immigrants who started their business in New York in 1851--a time when Americans
were beginning to produce mathematical instruments comparable to those made in Europe. Serial numbers suggest that the Stackpoles
had, indeed, manufactured sextants as well as other instruments for surveying and nautical use.
This is the example at the Smithsonian. Note the similarities in the mirrors, shades (filters) and
handle and the difference in the frame.
The instrument offered at auction predates the sextant at the
Smithsonian, by its pedestal design and very low serial number which make it a very early example, but it is still
engraved U.S.N. in addition to the maker's name.
Copyright 2005 by
Land And Sea Collection, All Rights Reserved