Presented is a rare bronze frame, antique quintant made
by the British instrument maker, Heath, & Son., LTD, New Eltham, London. The instrument is housed
in the most exquisite imaginable, and was obviously made for presentation. It bears serial number 7639 and comes with
its original certificate dated March, 1915 from the National Physical Laboratory and is with “0” non adjustable error.
The name STELLA is imprinted on the back of the horizon mirror. The photo above shows the collimation
telescope mounted. “Museum Quality“ may be a hackneyed term, but in this case, it is appropriate. Note:
The usual maker’s imprint is Heath & Co. Ltd at the same geographic location. We can not account for the & Son imprint.
It is near impossible
to find an instrument in such outstanding condition. With an elegant custom case, it makes a perfect gift
or as part of a collection of fine nautical antiques
This instrument was made using great care as evidenced by it’s certificate
which shows no non-adjustable error over the measurable range. This is quite a feat for the early 1900’s and something that
did not be come common until the 1970’s. It has received excellent care over the last 99 years and is in overall superb
condition. The sextant has three telescopes– a collimation scope of high power and narrow field of view; one
of low power and wide field of view– and one of medium power. There are two sighing tubes and one extra draw tube. The
telescopes are mounted on an adjustable arm called a rising piece, which allows the scope to be moved towards
and away from the frame. This is an advanced feature no longer found on contemporary sextants, and is helpful in taking twilight
and Horizon mirror
Rising piece moves scope in and out
STELLA imprint back of horizon
PROVENANCE: There is a brass plaque on the top of the case, but
no name was ever engraved. The name STELLA is imprinted on the back of the horizon mirror. Unfortunately,
nothing is known of its past history except that there is an inventory tag on the handle “NI -102” which indicates it was
part of a large collection. It may be a deacession from a museum.
The arc measures from – 5 to plus 145 degrees which makes this a quintant. Readings
are taken from a vernier with swinging magnifier mounted on an unusual fixed bridge which measures to 10 seconds of arc.
An old style tangent screw at the end of the arm engages with worm teeth cut on the underside of the limb.
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
which is an evolution of this design is likely the most numerous ever produced, and can still be found in great quantity today.
INSTRUMENT CONDITION: It is in outstanding condition with
all its metal machinery in good condition, and only shows minimal wear as a result of loss of some of the
lacquer. 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 and index mirrors are in excellent
condition as are the four index and three horizon shades.
The index arm clamp works freely, and the tangent screw moves as it should. Everything
is present except for two end caps for the scopes which are missing.
THE CERTIFICATE is the original issued by National Physical
Laboratory in March, 1915. There is no non-adjustable instrument error over the extent of the range measured.
For this period, this is very unusual and marks this instrument as having been made with great care.
CASE DIMENSIONS: 11
1/2″ L x 11″ D” L x 5″ H INSTRUMENT WEIGHT 3 LBS 9
3/4 OZ TOTAL WEIGHT 12lbs
STAR RATING: Everything of the instrument is original
and in good working order and this instrument rates 5 Plus 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. There are no
age cracks, and very few small marks showing use. The interior has finished black enamel holders for the accessories which
makes a pleasing contrast with the varnished interior. There are four brass campaign style straps on each corner which adds elegance.
The brass plaque on its top is without engraving.
Elegant custom campaign style military case
telescopes, one extra draw tube and two sighting tubes
SEE MORE PICTURES IN THE GALLERY BELOW
All in all,
a highly desirable and worthwhile example from one of better known English instrument makers.
2 Sighting tubes
MISSING are two end caps
1 extra draw tube
1 Wide angle telescope
1 Intermediate telescope 1 Collimation telescope
1 adjustment wrench
Length of index arm 9″
Width of frame at arc 9 3/4″
Index mirror 30 x 55 mm
Horizon mirror 30 x 30 mm
Instrument weight 3 lbs 9 3/4 oz Total weight 12
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.
This is arguably a special instrument that
is that is 99 years old and in this perfect condition with a very special case. It is without question a superior addition to any collection or will make a
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