RARE CUNARD CAPTAIN’S HUGHES ADMIRALTY
Presented is a vintage, 5 Stars, aluminum, “T” frame “HUSAN” sextant built
to the British Admiralty Pattern by the famous instrument maker, H. Hughes & Son,
LTD, London. The instrument was owned by Cunard Lines’ Captain W. J. Law who was Master of RMS
Caronia for three years before he commanded the RMS Queen Elizabeth II. The
original case has a plaque engraved with his name. Its serial number is 22009. It comes with a later
issued certificate of inspection by R. Kelly, The Glen, Ramsden Park Rd., Essex, England, dated 18.8.85.The instrument has received excellent care over its lifetime which dates back
to the 1950’s and is in superb condition. The frame is finished in Royal Navy haze grey, and the brass fittings
show much of their original varnish.SPECIAL FEATURE: What makes this sextant extra special, in addition
to its owner, is the horizon mirror which is laminated between two layers of glass to protect against salt spray,
and that the two adjustment screws on the back of its frame are covered with caps. This is a feature only the
English would think of. The sextant has two telescopes–one an inverting 9 power and narrow field of view;
the other of 2 1/2 power and wide field of view. The telescopes are mounted on an adjustable arm called a rising
piece, which allows them to be moved towards and away from the frame. This is an advanced feature no longer found on
The range arc measures from – 5 to plus +135 degrees. It is read by micrometer
drum with a vernier that reads to 10 arc seconds. A quick-release mechanism at the end of the arm engages with worm teeth
cut on the underside of the limb. There is a working swing arm lamp to see the markings at night.
BRIEF HISTORY OF MAKER: Henry Hughes & Sons was founded in
1838 in London as a maker of chronographic and scientific instruments. The firm was incorporated as Henry Hughes & Sons
Ltd in 1903 and in 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 establishing 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 “HUSUN” trademark was
in use starting in the 1920’s.
INSTRUMENT CONDITION: With few exceptions, it is in outstanding
condition with all its metal machinery in exceptional working condition, and only shows little wear. The horizon mirror is “as new”. The index mirror has minor graying along its outer circumference and
three pinhead dots of grey with 98% silvering remaining. The high powered scope is fitted with crosshairs which have broken
loose on one side. Overall, the paint is in good condition, but has a few small bubbles.
The index arm clamp works freely, and the micrometer wheel moves as it should.
The shade glasses are complete and in good working order. The painted bronze frame shows very little wear.
The instrument has four shades for its telescopes and two for the horizon glass which are all in excellent condition. The
original adjustment pick is included. We tested the sextant and it has little 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 Mahogany military
style case, complete, with a brass handle and a latch on both sides, with lock and key. Its varnish and hardware
are in good condition, but it has two age cracks across the top and bottom. There are wood pockets for two unidentified items
which are missing.
Special horizon mirror
Plaque with owner’s name
style carrying handle
All in all, a highly desirable and worthwhile example from one of better known English instrument
SPECIFICATIONS:Telescope 9 x 4 degreesTelescope 2 1/2 x 7 degreesSighting tubeLength of index arm 9″Width of frame at arc 9 1/2″Index mirror round 49 mm diaHorizon mirror round 35 mm diaInstrument weight 3 lbs 8 oz Total weight 8 lbs
4 ozACCESSORIES INCLUDED:2 extra shades1 pick1 vial of oil1 magnifying draw tube for low powered scope1 Key
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 owned
by an important mariner in such remarkable condition. A superior addition to any collection or use it at sea.