Antique HUGHES Double Frame Quintant-Sextant

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Copyright 2011 by Land And Sea Collection™, All Rights
PRESENTED is a fine late 19th
C. mariner’s double frame quintant with graduated “Platina“ (platinum) arc and gold vernier, and
brass frame and fittings. Engraved at mid-center of the arc at the bottom is “Henry Hughes & Son, 59 Fenchurch
St. London”, one of England’s foremost “Class A“ instrument makers. Over this is the serial number 3802. The instrument
is mainly shown with the high power collimation telescope fitted.
The original inspection certificate issued
by the Kew Observatory, Richmond, Surrey, in October, 1890 is mounted in the case. Like modern instruments, no error is greater
than 20 arc seconds over its usable range.

double or pillar frame sextant was invented by Edward Thoughton, one of England’s premier instrument makers, in 1788.
It is comprised of two relatively light weight sheets of brass making up the frame that are held together by a series
of pillars, nineteen in total. This formed a rigid frame on which mounted the mirrors, shades, a telescope, index
arm, and magnifier. The Troughton double frame sextant added to the inventors reputation, but it was a highly complex instrument
to make, and gave way to more simplified designs in the mid 19 th Century. The Henry Hughes quintant is an exact
copy of the Throughton instrument, and may in fact have been made for Hughes by Throughton.
 Maker’s Name, Serial No. & Platinma & gold
     Gold vernier reads 0 to 10 arc seconds
The Hughes family were originally clockmakers in the East End of London who progressed into supplying sextants and chronometers
to ships coming into the River Thames.
In 1712 Thomas Hughes became a member
of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers at the age of 26, and was elected as Master of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers
in 1742. His son, Thomas Hughes (junior), had his business at 25 New Bond Street, London, and was elected as Master of the
Worshipful Company of Clockmakers in 1762.
In 1781 William Hughes, believed
to be the son of Thomas Hughes Junior, was elected freeman of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers and sold a cabin clock
to captain Cook. Joseph Hughes, believed to be the son of William born in 1781, lived and worked at 16 Queen Street, Ratcliffe.
He was to become a well-known maker of quadrants and compasses. His son Henry Hughes was born in 1816.
Henry Hughes & Son was founded in 1838 at 120, later 59, Fenchurch
St. in London, as an optician and maker of chronographic and scientific instruments. Henry
died in 1879 and his son Alexander succeeded him as chairman.
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 establishment 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 well known
trademark was in use starting in the 1920s.

INSTRUMENT CONDITION: The mirrors are in remarkably near
new condition and show little age. The beautifully Rosewood handle has a minor age crack on the back. The index arm clamp,
and swing arm magnifier are complete and in good working order. The double frame has a beautiful dark patina that ranges from
shades of green to mid-night black. The instrument is in exceptional condition.




It comes complete with:

        One sighting tube



        One low powered scope


      • One high powered inverting collimation telescope
      • Special astigmitizer lens for twilight sights
      • Mirror adjustment pick
      • One adjustment wrench
      • One ocular lens cap
      • Missing is one vial of oil

The non tarnishing platinum scale is calibrated -5 to +155 degrees
with a gold tarnish free vernier scale reading from the right from 0 to 10 arc seconds in 2 second intervals. The
sextant has four rectangular shades for the index mirror, one of which is a special astigmitizer, and three round shades for
the horizon mirror, all in good order. The telescope’s distance from the frame may be adjusted by turning a knob at the back
of the rising piece. This most useable feature was discontinued in later sextants because of its high cost. The instrument
and it’s accessories are housed in a square Mahogany carrying case which has brass hinges and latches and a lock, but no key.

       Astigmitizer lens & Index
         Horizon mirror and 3

Above: Instrument in case. Below back of instrument

LABELS AND TAG: On the cover of the case is a Union Railway
label of the named train Challenger which served the California coast from 1935 until 1947. On the inside of the cases
back rim is a small ivory tag which gives the maker’s name and address.

THE CASE: The hardwood
case is in excellent solid condition, with two age cracks, and some scratches on the top and scuffing and one age crack
on the bottom. Two patches of the green felt are missing. There is a lock, but no key, and two original latches.
It is brightly varnished and has a wonderful old golden patina of age. The plate at its center is a replacement.

A very rare and highly
desirable instrument from one of the best known English instrument makers.


Length of index arm      9 1/4“
Radius of arc
7 1/2″
Width of frame at arc    9 3/4″
mirror                  47 x 33
Horizon mirror               30
x 25 mm
Weight                           3
Lbs 3 oz     Total weight 7 lbs 15 oz

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