Original Troughton & Simms, London Cased Miniature Sextant

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PRESENTED is a miniature sextant by the exceptionally well known maker of navigation instruments, Edward Troughton & William Simms of London. Troughton & Simms were considered by many as the best of the English instrument makers. This miniature instrument dates from their partnership and belongs in a collection of fine nautical antiques or as an important gift for someone who values the history of navigation and seamanship. Considering the fine box the Royal Navy captain made for this instrument, it was probably a prized possession. Having a miniature version of a Troughton & Simms instrument is a considerable find and a must as a collectible. It is housed in an intricately made wood box with brass fittings and whalebone insert, marked Capt. H.G. RN.

This fine miniature has all the working parts of a full size sextant, with a small articulated folding wood handle. The tangent screw and clamping screw are positioned on the back of the index arm. The device has two square index shades, and two round horizon shades. The telescope is attached to a perpendicular rising-piece which is adjusted up and down by a milled knob. There is also an articulated magnifier traveling over the vernier. There is a single working telescope. The brass limb is inlaid with a sterling scale from -0° to 140° divided each 5 degrees. The sterling vernier measures from right to left from 0 to 20 in arc seconds.

This is a fine and rare opportunity to acquire an extremely unusual and fine example of a miniature instrument from such a famous maker as Troughton & Simms.

Troughton & Simms- London Maker’s Mark

INSTRUMENT & CASE CONDITION: The instrument shows discoloration on the brass consistent with its age. The telescope displays the image rightside up. Both mirrors, considering their age, are in good condition. The swing arm magnifier is complete and in good working order, and articulates up and down. Both sets of shades, i.e., filters are in perfect condition. The endless tangent screw turns easily. The telescope and sighting tube are brass with much of their original finish present.

Side View

The Troughton & Simms Miniature Sextant housed in its case

Beautiful View of the Case

Arc -0° to + 140:
Length of index arm 4″
Radius of arc 4 1/2″
Width of frame at arc 3 3/4″
2 index shades
3 horizon shades
Weight 8 Lbs 1/4 oz


HISTORIC BACKGROUND: Edward Troughton, FRS (October 1753 – 12 June 1835) was a British instrument maker who was notable for making telescopes and other astronomical instruments.

Troughton was born at Corney, Cumberland. In 1779, after serving an apprenticeship with his elder brother John, he became his partner and soon established himself as the top maker of navigational, surveying and astronomical instruments in Brittan. In 1795 he delivered the Troughton Equatorial Telescope to the Armagh Observatory, a 2 inch aperture refractor telescope mounted
equatorially, and its first major instrument since its founding in 1790 (It survived into the 21st century also). He created the Groombridge Transit Circle in 1806, which Stephen Groombridge used to compile his star cataloger.[3] He did not merely build instruments, but designed and invented new ones such as his double frame instrument of 1788.

Troughton was awarded the Copley Medal of the Royal Society in 1809. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in March 1810.

In 1826, after John’s death and in failing health himself, he took on William Simms as a partner and the firm became known as Troughton & Simms.

Troughton was color blind. On his death in 1835, he was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery.

TROUGHTON & SIMMS, THE SUCCESSOR:Troughton & Simms was a British instrument-making firm, formed when Edward Troughton in his old age took on William Simms as a partner in 1826. It became a limited company in 1915, and in 1922, it merged with T. Cooke & Sons to form Cooke, Troughton & Simms.  The firm produced hundreds of astronomical instruments such as mural circles, transit circles, sextants, and other astronomical instruments for observatories around the world.   Previously, Troughton had been a sole proprietor, and before that he was in partnership with his brother John. John died and Edward took on Simms in 1826. Edward Troughton died in 1835.

Ref. This maker is listed in Sextants at Greenwich”, “Sextants
at Greenwich” by W.E.J. Mozer Bruyns, which catalogs the collection of the British National Maritime Museum at Greenwich,

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