FAMOUS “WOMEN OF SCIENCE”
MAKER JANET TAYLOR
EARLY ENGLISH SEXTANT
is a very rare sextant that we believe can be attributed to Janet Taylor, one of only two women involved in the developing science of celestial navigation in the 19th century. This is an important instrument that will appeal to those familiar with the history of navigation. Mrs. Taylor wrote and published some of the groundbreaking books and monographs with extensive tables and instructions on establishing positions at sea using celestial navigation instruments. She also founded a “Nautical Academy” to teach young seaman aspiring to careers at sea. Some of her instruments are in the British National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, including a very ornate instrument presented to the Prince of Wales, which is pictured on the cover of their definitive book on navigation instruments, “Sextants at Greenwich”.The label in the case is “Samuel Thaxter & Son” of Boston, which indicates that the owner, E.H. Callaghan, was probably an American seaman, and likely a Captain, ship owner or person of some importance or wealth. This would have been an expensive instrument at the time.
The quality of the machining and beautifully crafted, with ornate touches ,bronze frame indicate this instrument was made by an advanced instrument maker, one who would stand at the top of his/her trade. It has been polished and lacquered to emphasize its beauty and importance as a piece of navigation history.
The instrument is in excellent condition. The graduated arc, and all its hardware are present. The bronze legs are original. All shades are in perfect condition and all sighting tubes and scope are present. The index mirror is slightly crazed but generally in good condition for its age with minor discoloration. The fine wood case is original to the instrument and in excellent shape for its age. It has the owners name engraved on a brass plate, “E.H. Callaghan”.
Taylor,103 Minores, London
The arc is inscribed “Taylor,103 Minores, London”, and reads 0 to 140 each ten degrees. The vernier reads from the right from 0 to 10 minutes in two minute increments. There is a number engraved in the middle of the vernier scale 2175, and we think this was probably an inventory or model number.
DATING THE INSTRUMENT:
The instrument dates to the mid 19th Century when Mrs. Taylor and her husband, George, founded their school and store on 103 Minores Street in London in 1835. By that time, Janet Taylor had established herself as a major force in the development and study of celestial navigation. In July of 1833, she published her first book, Lunar-Solar and Horary Tables, with mathematical calculations, examples and formulas designed to assist in the calculation of latitude and longitude by the lunar method by astronomical observation.
DIMENSIONS:Arc reads – 0 to -140
Seven shade glasses
Weight of sextant 2 Lbs 12 oz.
In 2016, a book about Mrs. Janet Taylor by John Croucer and Rosalind Croucher, was published, “Mistress of Science”,
The story of the remarkable Janet Taylor, pioneer of Sea Navigation.
This early sextant is an exceptional instrument of historic importance for someone who appreciates a rare 19th Century museum quality instrument.