Henry Hughes & Son Three Ring Sextant Pristine Condition

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Henry Hughes & Son

Three Ring Sextant

In Like New Presentation Condition


Henry Hughes & Son Three Ring Sextant

Presented is an Extra fine World
War II Era mariner’s sextant with an extended arc from  -5 to +130 degrees that almost equals a quintant. It has
a graduated insert made of a proprietary metal that Hughes called “Platina“ (platinum) arc and vernier, with
brass frame and fittings. Engraved at mid-center of the arc at the bottom is “Henry Hughes & Son Ltd.,
London”. Hughes was one of England’s foremost “Class A“ instrument makers. Over this is the serial number
27431. The instrument is shown with the 2 1/2 power Star scope fitted.


The original inspection certificate issued by Hughes on Sept 9, 1941, is mounted in the case. No error is
greater than 30 arc seconds over its usable range.
ACCESSORIES: All the original
accessories are included consisting of a terrestrial sighting tube, the aforesaid star scope, bottle of oil, adjustment
pick for mirrors and the key for the case.


Henry Hughes & Son Three Ring Sextant


Showing the Hughes 3 Ring and all its accessories in its case

The three-ring design was used by C. Plath and the English firms of both Heath and Hughes in vast quantities because of the inherent
strength of the frame’s design. This sextant is fitted with larger than the normal size mirrors for this period so it
is highly suitable for twilight sights when the low-powered Star scope is fitted.


INSTRUMENT CONDITION: The mirrors are in remarkably like-new condition and show no age The index arm quick-release clamp, and swing arm magnifier are complete and in good working order. Regrettably,
the lens cap for the scopes is missing. This is a rarely used piece. The lighting system works. The frame has a
beautiful midnight black wrinkle finish. Overall, the instrument is in exceptional condition with 100% of the original factory
varnish on the brass hardware. This is remarkable for its 76-year age.

Back of Sextant



The original inspection certificate issued by Hughes on Sept 9, 1941, is mounted in the case. No error is
greater than 30 arc seconds over its usable range.

HUGHES FAMILY: The Hughes family were originally clockmakers in the East End of London who progressed into supplying
sextants and chronometers to ships coming into the River Thames. In 1712 Thomas Hughes became a member of the Worshipful Company
of Clockmakers at the age of 26 and was elected as Master of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers in 1742. His son, Thomas
Hughes (junior), had his business at 25 New Bond Street, London, and was elected as Master of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers in 1762. In 1781 William Hughes, believed to be the son of Thomas Hughes Junior, was elected freeman of the Worshipful
Company of Clockmakers and sold a cabin clock to Captain Cook. Joseph Hughes, believed to be the son of William born in 1781,
lived and worked at 16 Queen Street, Ratcliffe. He was to become a well-known maker of quadrants and compasses. His son Henry
Hughes was born in 1816.

Henry Hughes & Son was founded in 1838 at 120, later 59, Fenchurch St. in London, as
an optician and maker of chronographic and scientific instruments. Henry died in 1879 and his son Alexander succeeded
him as chairman. The firm was incorporated as Henry Hughes & Sons Ltd in 1903 and 1923, the company produced its first
recording echo sounder. In 1935, a controlling interest in the company was acquired by S. Smith & Son Ltd resulting in
the development of marine and aircraft instruments. Following the London office’s destruction in the Blitz of 1941, a
collaboration was entered into with Kelvin, Bottomley & Baird Ltd, resulting in the establishment of Marine Instruments
Ltd. Following the formal amalgamation of Kelvin, Bottomley & Baird Ltd and Henry Hughes & Sons Ltd in 1947 to form
Kelvin & Hughes Ltd, Marine Instruments Ltd acted as regional agents in the UK for Kelvin & Hughes Ltd who were essentially
now a part of Smith’s Industries Ltd founded in 1944 as the successors of S. Smith & Son Ltd. The well known
“HUSUN” trademark was in use starting in the 1920s.

HENRY HUGHES 3 Ring sextant

One sighting tube
One low-powered Star scope
Mirror adjustment pick
One vial of oil  (old
should not be used)
The non-tarnishing platinum scale is calibrated from -5 to +130 degrees with a vernier scale on the drum reading from 0 to 60 arc seconds
in 10-second intervals. The sextant has four square shades for the index mirror, and three round shades for
the horizon mirror, all in good order. The telescope’s distance from the frame may be adjusted by turning a knob at the
back of the rising piece. This most useable feature was discontinued in later sextants because of its high cost. The instrument
and its accessories are housed in a square Mahogany carrying case which has brass hinges and latches and a lock, and
key. The case has what may be a later-lined green felt interior. The exterior has a bright varnish with the top having a three-inch crack on the top right and a crack on the bottom running its length. These do not affect its strength.

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Established in 2003

Celebrating 18 Years of Exellence in Nautical Antiques

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