Presented is an early bronze frame, platinum arc,
antique quintant by the British instrument maker, Heath, & Co., LTD, New Eltham,
London. The instrument was made for V. Weizaeker Opticien De La Marine . Dunkerque . whose name
appears on the arc. Based on its very low serial number of R 154 we date this instrument as having been made in
the first quarter of the 20 th Century and likely 1910. As such, it has received excellent care over the last 97 years
and is in overall superb condition. Most all of the polished brass fittings show their original Victorian varnish.
The sextant had two telescopes–one of high power and narrow field of view; the other of low power and wide field of
view–which is the one that is fitted. The telescope is mounted on an adjustable arm called a rising piece, which allows
it to be moved towards and away from the frame. This is an advanced feature no longer found on contemporary sextants.
PROVENANCE: For the last thirty five years it was owned by a U.S.
Master, now retired. In the last years of his professional career, he was the captain of a very large crude
This being a quintant, the arc measures from – 5 to plus 155 degrees. It is read
by vernier with tangent screw and swinging magnifier to 10 seconds of arc. A quick-release mechanism at the end of the arm
engages with worm teeth cut on the underside of the limb. This mechanism, marked “‘HEZZANITH’ ENDLESS TANGENT
SCREW AUTOMATIC CLAMP PATENT No. 17840,” facilitates making fine adjustments. The British patent for this was issued in
Ref: G. W. Heath and Heath & Co., “Improvements in Devices
for the Adjustments of Sextants and other like Instruments,” British patent #17,840. Heath
& Co., Catalogue (London, 1921-1922), p. 506.
BRIEF HISTORY OF MAKER: The Heath name was synonymous
with quality from the earliest days of the London scientific instrument trade. The Thomas Heath firm, and its predecessor’s
operations date back to 1720 when Thomas Heath began making instruments on the Strand in London. Many people associated
with the family firm went on to become prominent instrument makers in their own right. Such men as Adams, Troughton,
and Watkins worked there for a time before embarking on their own. In 1845 Thomas Heath, II took the helm and the firm’s name
was changed to Heath & Co., and it continued in business until the mid 20th Century. The Heath three ring frame design
Hezzanith sextant is likely the most numerous ever produced, and can still be found in great quantity today.
INSTRUMENT CONDITION: Except for a very few
exceptions, it is in outstanding condition with all its metal machinery in good working condition, and only shows minimal
wear.. Rarely seen with instruments of this age, is the small ivory plate on the backside of the handle for making notations
of the reading of the observations. The horizon mirror two
vertical hairline age cracks and the index mirror has more age cracks in both directions, but is still useable.
Like all vernier instruments, reading the arc is helped by the magnifier
and the gradations are sharp.The index arm clamp works freely, and the tangent screw moves as it should. The shade glasses
are complete and in good working order. The midnight black bronze frame is in very good condition except
for some minor evidence of age in a few places. The instrument has four shades for it telescope which is clear and sharp.
The higher powered scope is missing. The original adjustment wrench is included. There is no label or inspection certificate,
but we took some practice sights, which showed no index or side error.
STAR RATING: Everything of the instrument
is original and in good working order and this instrument rates 5 Stars.
THE SEXTANT’S CASE: The sextant is housed in a square
case, complete, with a brass campaign style handle and a catch on both sides, but with no key. As strange as
it may seem, these cases were originally configured with the top and bottom made of plywood while the four sides
are the original Mahogany held by hand made dovetails. There are no age cracks, but there is a drilled hole through the
bottom with nothing fitted. There are some scratches and degradation of the varnish so that refinishing down to the wood might
Maker’s and Retailer’s Names & Vernier
Adjustable rising piece
and index mirror
SEE MORE PICTURES IN THE GALLERY BELOW
All in all,
a highly desirable and worthwhile example from one of better known English instrument makers.
Telescope 4 x 26 est.
Length of index arm 9 1/8″
Width of frame at arc 9 1/4″
Index mirror 30 x 32 mm
Horizon mirror 30 x 50 mm
Instrument weight 3 lbs Total weight 8 lbs
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 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 also a retired Master Mariner, and held a U.S. Navy “D” Qualification as a Senior Skipper – Oceans. From 1995 through 2000, he served as a Varsity Offshore Sailing Team coach at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Rarely do you find a special instrument
that is that is 97 years old in this original condition. A superior addition
to any collection or use it at sea.
OUR UNCONDITIONAL GUARANTEE: If not completely
satisfied with your purchase it may be returned, if without damage, within three days of receipt in its original condition
and packaging. Returns must be insured for their full value. All that is required is a prior email authorization by us for
the return. Unfortunately, no refund can be made for the cost of shipping, packaging and handling unless we are at fault.
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