IMPORTANT SEXTANT WITH FOLK ART AMERICAN
EAGLE CROSSED FLAGS
Presented is an ebony frame, ivory arc, antique sextant
made by the English instrument maker, F. Stopponi of Red Street, Holborn, London and sold in this country by Charles Taber
& Co. New Bedford.
The sextant is in excellent original condition, but what sets it apart from all
others is the folk art, 6 1/2 by 7 inch painting of an American eagle over the federal shield with a crossed Union
Jack on the left and an American flag on the right. There is a blue banner in between with FRIENDSHIP, LOVE and TRUST
on it. There also is what appears to be a pike on the right. There is the indication of a drum under the fold of
the flag and other objects to its left. Sailors were infrequently known to have decorated their cases with paintings
such as this, but they are very rare, and generally not in this excellent condition.
There is an advertisement on the inside cover which reads in part:
CHARLES TABER & Co, NEW BEDFORD
IMPORTERS AND MANUFACTURERES
NO. 45 UNION ST, NEW BEDFORD
……On hand every description of nautical instrument
warranted sextants, quadrants, spy glasses….etc.
Stopponi was in business in London from in the mid 19th Century. He is listed in Webster’s Registry of Instrument
Makers. Taber had a much more diversified background as recited below.
THE SEXTANT: This beautifully
made instrument has a ribbed brass index arm measures 11 7/8 inches long on the index arm. The
arc measures from – 5 to plus 100 degrees. The ivory plate on a cross bar between the two limbs is engraved “F. STOPPONI,
London”. The horizon mirror is on an adjustable turntable and can be rotated by an arbor. Note the tangent screw,
ivory vernier scale, reading from right to left from 0 to 20 arc minutes, a peep sight, and one set of sun shades
all of which help date the instrument. There is no provision for a handle on this sextant which marks it as a transitional
piece between an octant and a sextant.
Some time after 1780, the addition of a tangent screw,
as fitted to this instrument, allowed for fine adjustment and represents one of the two major changes in the basic operation
of the octants and sextants for the next 150 years! The second was the fitting of telescopes, a second set of shades
and a ribbed index arm.
Period keystone Oak case with age cracks
SEXTANT CONDITION: The sextant appears in exceptional condition
having been maintained and stored with great care. The mirrors are in excellent condition and ready to use. The ivory
is in perfect condition.The engraving is sharp and distinct. Present is a small ivory plate on the back, but the
ivory pencil cap is missing. The shades are complete and in good working order. The ebony frame shows as near new.
The instrument has its original machinery, a one hole peep sight, and everything is original and in good working
THE CASE: The “keystone” solid Oak
case is good condition, but dusty inside, and has some age cracks top and bottom. Paint has flaked
off of the top mostly along the lower edge of the cover. The lock is missing inside and there is no key. An
advertisement on the inside, in excellent condition, reads CHARLES TABER & Co, NEW BEDFORD,
IMPRTERS AND MANUFACTURERES, NO. 45 UNION ST, NEW BEDFORD and more. What may be a relative by marriage, Elizabeth Taber,
wife of Stephen Taber of New Bedford was the founder of Taber Academy in Marion, MA in 1876.
in good condition
Peep sight and horizon mirror in good condition
Old style vernier reading from the
in all, an important, highly desirable example of a sextant personalized with magnificent folk art patriotic representations
sold here by a well know New Bedford firm
BRIEF HISTORY OF CHARLES TABER: Born
near New Bedford, MA on April 3, 1824 of Mayflower stock. Taber shipped out on a whaler at 15. After many years at sea,
he became master of his own vessel. When gold was discovered in California, Captain Taber sailed around Cape Horn in August
1848. For a time he was engaged in the transportation of troops for the U.S. government. Taber was later the captain of a
ferry boat which plied the waters between San Francisco and Sacramento. He returned to New Bedford and continued a career
ashore in the instrument business with his brother William starting in 1849, and later as a printer. The Taber firm was active
Length of frame 11 7/8″
Width of frame at arc 9 3/4″
Index mirror 40 x 30 mm
Horizon mirror 20 x 20 mm
Weight 2 Lbs 2 oz
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 Coach at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Rarely do you find an instrument
that has been personalized with a period painting in this outstanding condition with a historic label. It
is meant for someone who appreciates its rarity and historic value.
About Land and Sea Collection™
The Source for the Finest Nautical Antiques, Affordable Marine Art, Vintage Dive Helmets, New Sextants, Antique Sextants, and beautifully executed Antique & Vintage Boat, Ship and Aircraft Models.