RARE 19TH Century
SPENCER BARRETT SEXTANT
for only the second time in the last eight years, we are able to offer an ebony frame, ivory
arc, antique sextant made by the high quality limited producer British maker, Spencer Barrett & Co. of London. It dates
from the 1840 – 1850 Period. The instrument is in excellent condition with near perfect index mirror and all its parts are
original. When received, most of the the metal work had been polished except for the horizon mirror housing and the shades
(filters) which were painted midnight black. We restored the sextant
to that condition leaving the black paint as original with fresh lacquer coating added.
It is housed
in a keystone case which is in remarkable condition, considering its age, that looks as fresh inside.
The arc measures from – 5
to plus 120 degrees. The ivory plate on a cross bar between the two limbs is engraved “Spencer Barrett & Co. London”.
There are few examples of this maker’s instruments in the public domain with the few examples only
seen in museums. They are listed in Webster’s Database of Instrument Makers, but little is known of their history
other than they were active between about 1830 -1880. A similar example of this instrument is in the Smithsonian Museum.
Spencer Barrett was in business in London from about 1830 to 1880, specializing in instruments for navigational use. There is no
connection between them and the more ubiquitous Spencer Browning & Rust Co. which ceased business in 1870.
This beautifully made instrument has a ribbed
brass index arm measuring over 13 inches long with a diameter of arc of 10 1/2″. The horizon mirror is on an adjustable
turntable and can be rotated by two knobs, one of which locks the mirror’s position. There are three rectangular sun shades
for the index mirror and none for the horizon mirror. The vernier reads from right to left from 0 to 20 arc seconds.
There is a single hole peep sight with “flap. There is no provision for a handle on this instrument which marks
it as a transitional piece between an octant and a sextant.
As was the practice with octant’s of larger size,
this sextant was not fitted with a handle which indicates it is one of the earliest of that type made by Spencer Barrett
making it a noteworthy instrument by this maker.
INSTRUMENT CONDITION: The
brass machinery, except as mentioned above, has been polished and lacquered as it was when made. The horizon mirror is in
surprisingly excellent condition age. All the ivory arc is in perfect condition, and the engraving is sharp and distinct.
The index arm clamp, and shade glasses are complete and in good working order. The ebony frame shows as near new. Everything
is original and in good working order.
THE CASE: The “keystone”
solid Mahogany case is in excellent condition overall, and very clean inside. It has an age crack on the bottom and Hardy
Boston stenciled on the cover.There is a lock, but no key. An excellent example of F.W. Lincoln Jr. &
Co, Nautical Instruments label is on the inside cover. Lincoln was Abraham Lincoln’s grandson and also served as Mayor
Sextant shown in case with the fine F.W. Lincoln label under
mirror over shades (filters) over Horizon mirror
rare find for the discriminating collector or perfect as a prestige gift from a lesser known, but high
quality British instrument maker.
DIMENSIONS:Length of index
arm 13″Radius of index
arm 12′Width of frame
at arc 10 1/2″Index mirror 41
x 31 mmHorizon mirror
27 x 20 mmSextant Weight
2 Lbs 4 oz In case 4 lbs.13 oz.OUR QUALIFICATIONS: We are one of the few
company’s still selling navigation instruments that know anything about them. For purposes of judging whether
Joel’s opinion counts, he was the editor of the chapter on sextants of the 1977 Edition of “Bowditch”, The American
Practical Navigator, NAVPUB 9; a member of the U.S. Naval Academy Navigation Symposium, 1975 -1978; the author of a book on
marine sextants, Cornell Maritime Press,1975, and the founding president of Nautech Maritime Corporation which partnered with
Tamaya of Japan in the introduction of the MS 733 Spica, the MS 833, Jupiter, MS 933 Venus sextants and the famous NC-2 navigation
computer, in the U.S. market. Joel is a retired Master Upon Oceans, and held a U.S. Navy “D” Qualification as a
Senior Skipper – Oceans. For six years he was a Varsity Offshore Sailing Team Coach at the U.S. Naval Academy. Some of his
memberships have included the: Association of Naval Aviation, Silver Wings, The Tailhook Association, Naval Academy Sailing
Squadron, McCampbell’s Aces Squadron, Naval Historical Foundation, and the Naval Order of the United States.Rarely do you find a rare instrument
that is 160 years old in this original condition. It would be a outstanding addition to any collection.