Their Finest & Best Sextant Ever!
It has been over a year since we were able to offer a C. Plath Navistar Classic sextant in top-notch condition. They are rare, hard to find, and very much in demand. In this case we present a documented 1981 C. Plath Navistar Classic, Serial No. 62657 in its Mahogany wood case with energy absorbing green liner. The sextant sits in the case with its handle up, ready for use, a handy feature. It has a Carl Zeiss 4 x 40 scope and on its index arm is the Deutche Hydrographic Institute seal of approval.
The Deutche Hydrographic Institute stamp of approval elevates it to the highest level because it indicates this instrument was tested by DHI, and found to meet the more stringent standards for commercial use. Hence, this sextant sold for more originally then the regular Navistar Classic.
The Navistar Classic was the top of the Plath line and was made in limited quantities, and was made with a guaranteed non-adjustable instrument error of 10 arc seconds or less. It sold for a premium over all its other sextants. For example, almost 30 years ago, they sold for over $1000.00, and as recently as 2001, the price had risen to $4000.00.
Don’t confuse this model with the similarly named “Navistar Professional“ which. in our opinion is the worst sextant made by them or the “Navistar Traditional“ which was made shortly before sextant production was terminated. It has instrument error to 20 arc seconds.
You can identify the “Navistar Classic” by these clues:
1. It has a special micrometer drum
2. The Navistar brand imprint on the arc.
3. The vernier has six indents and reads to 10 seconds of arc.
4. Comes with a fine wood case with a green absorbent liner,
5. And an instruction booklet, and Plath’s certification with matching
Some have a label from the Deutche Hydrographic Institute dated 2/1/78 certifying them for commercial service. All these features are present with this instrument.
PROVENANCE: This instrument was formerly the property of a yachtsman who used it in a passage from Europe to the Eastern Caribbean. Afterwards, it spent most of its life on a shelf.
For the seven year period from 1978 through 1985 only 1693 Navistar Classics were made. That is only 211 per year to satisfy worldwide demand.
CONDITION: There little evidence of use. The horizon mirror has the tiniest of desilvering along the bottom of the
edge which separates the mirrored from the clear portion which most would miss seeing. It is negligible, and can be considered “as near new”. The index mirror is in “new condition“ without a blemish. The stainless and chrome fittings
are all bright and shiny. The paint is excelent with no evidense of corrosion. It operates like a well oiled
piece of machinery, and has no mechanical faults even minor ones except these: The case has a some scuff marks, and scratches, mostly on its top. The lighting does NOT work after a number of bulbs and batteries have been tried. This is quite common with C. Plath Classic sextants. There is no index or side error.
The numbers on the certificate and sextant match. This is a C. Plath Navistar Classic that is suitable for a collector or for use at sea . It requires someone who can appreciate the fine points of a sextant, and is willing to pay an appropriate price for this level of quality and excellence.
STAR RATING: This fine Collector Quality instrument rates 4 15/16 STARS
only because of the lighting. Otherwise, its a 5.
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 Board, 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 Mariner, 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 include 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.
COMPANY HISTORY: In brief, Carl Plath started manufacturing sextants, in addition to other nautical products, in Hamburg Germany in 1862 though the company’s origin dates back to 1837. As a result WW II, C.Plath was dismantled completely by the occupation forces. Around 1950, various prohibitions were lifted, and C. Plath was allowed to begin production again of sextants and other nautical instruments. Also in 1949,C.Plath was offered a gyrocompass patent and in 1951 the first gyrocompass designed to this patent was presented to the public. C.Plath progressed from the role of instrument maker to that of a modern marine navigation equipment manufacturer. In the following years the
product range was expanded by many more modern designs such as autopilots, speed logs, radio direction finders, etc.
In 1962 C.Plath was acquired by Litton Industries, a large American concern.The C.Plath North American Division was set up in 1978 in College Park near Washington. 1996 saw the introduction of the world’s first fiber-optic solid-state gyrocompass by C.Plath. The first ever gyrocompass with no moving parts. Sperry Marine was formed in 1997 with the combination of C.Plath, Decca Marine and Sperry Marine with more organizational changes yet to come. After 163 years, C.Plath changes its name to Sperry Marine in May 2000. In 2001 Sperry Marine becomes part of the Northrop Grumman Corporation. Directly thereafter, C. Plath quit producing sextants. The parent company has completely liquidated everything including machinery, equipment and spare parts.
C. PLATH NAVISTAR CLASSIC SPECIFICATIONS:
Measuring Range: -5 to 125 degrees
Telescope: 4 x 40 Coated optics
Frame: Bronze with black enamel paint and bronze arc.
Micrometer Drum and Vernier Scale: reads
to 10 seconds of arc
Index Mirror: 56 x 42 mm. aluminized on the rear side.
Horizon Mirror: 57mm diameter.
for index mirror
3 for horizon mirror
Weight sextant: 4.2 lbs, Weight case 6 lbs.
1 C. Plath Sextant frame
1 4 x 40 Scope
1 Mirror adjustment tool
1 Varnished Mahogany sextant case
1 Spare bulb
Certificate of Inspection