Presented is an ebony frame, ivory arc, antique octant made under the little known
mark of Spencer of London. This mark is rarely seen which makes this spectacular instrument all the more desirable. As listed
in Webster’ Registry or Instrument Makers, the research team of Coffeen and Moskowitz believe this name was used by Spencer,
Browning and Rust on certain of their more important instruments since both companies shared a common address.This well made instrument has
a ribbed brass index arm measuring over 12 3/4″ long with a radius of arc of 10 1/8″. The horizon mirror is on an
adjustable turntable. There are three rectangular sun shades and a single circular horizon shade. This sets this instrument
apart from others which were only fitted with index sun shades. Note the early form ivory vernier scale, reading from
right to left from 0 to 20 arc seconds, two hole peep sight with “flap”, and the configuration of the shades all of which
help date the instrument. Its larger size and lack of a handle on this instrument mark it as a transitional piece between
an octant and a sextant.
The sextant’s arc measures from – 3 to
plus 105 degrees, and the ivory plate on a cross bar between the two limbs is engraved “Spencer of London”. The
polished brass machinery, sharply engraved ivory and single distinctive horizon shade all add to its appearance. The
keystone case, except for a small missing section of the right corner is also in great condition. Overall it
is worthy of being given as a gift or as a center point in a fine collection.
Spencer Browning Rust worked in London from 1724 to 1840 when the name was
changed to Spencer Browning & Co. after the death of Ebenezer Rust. The successor, Spencer Browning had offices
at a number of addresses on Wapping High Street, London and
were in business until 1870. They had an early dividing machine and inscribed arcs for others. Ref: Gloria Clifton,
Directory of British Scientific Instrument Makers 1550-1851 (London, 1995), p. 261.
PROVENANCE: Handed down in the family
of a Boston jeweler through three generations. It was said to have been received by the grandfather in lieu of a cash payment,
likely around 1929. Both the father and the grandson who have no interest in the sea thought it best if it went to someone
who would appreciate it.
The index mirror and the horizon mirror are faded, but in otherwise very good condition. All
the ivory is in perfect condition, and the engraving is sharp and distinct. A
small ivory pencil which usually has been lost, is present. The index arm clamp, and shade glasses are complete and in good
working order. The ebony frame is like new. The instrument has its original machinery, and a two hole peep sight. Everything
is original and in good working order. It has been recently polished and lacquered to enhance its appearance.
THE CASE & LABEL: The “keystone” Mahogany case that is in very good condition.
It is very clean inside with a small hole in the lower right corner and a small section missing in the upper right corner.
There is a lock, but no key. The label is that of D. Eggert & Son at 239 Pearl St., Head of Burling Slip, New York is in like new condition. They were active
in New York as a chronometer and nautical instrument makers until about 1850. They are listed in Webster’s database
of instrument makers.
Closed keystone case. Note top corner
Eggert & Son label
Peep sight and horizon mirror
Machinery and index mirror
All in all, a highly desirable
and worthwhile example from one of the higher quality English instrument makersDIMENSIONS:Length of index arm 12 3/4″Width of frame at arc 10 1/4″Radius of arc 10 1/8“
mirror 45 x 32 mmHorizon mirror 28 x 21 mmWeight sextant 2 Lbs 2 oz Total weightRarely do you find an instrument that is that is 166 years old in this original condition with a perfect
case. A superior addition
to any collection
We are one of the few 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, 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 their sextants and the famous NC-2 navigation computer, in the U.S. market. Joel is also a
retired Master Upon Oceans, 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.
OUR UNCONDITIONAL NO NONSENSE GUARANTEE: If not completely
satisfied with your purchase it may be returned within five days of receipt in its original packaging if without damage. Return
items must be insured for their full value. Only a prior email authorization from us for the return is required. Shipping
charges are included in this offer if an error is due to our fault within the Continental United States.
buyers welcome, but inquire first. We
have satisfied customers in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Chile, China,
Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Estonia, England, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hong Kong, Hungary,
Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Martinique, Mexico, New Zealand,
Nigeria, Norway, Nova Scotia, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Scotland,
Singapore, South Africa, Spain, St. Maarten, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, USVI and the Eastern
ACCEPTED FORMS OF PAYMENT are Bank wire transfer, cashier’s check, money order, or personal check
in which case the item will be held until cleared. No credit cards or PayPal accepted on this item.
Copyright 2012 by Land And Sea
Collection™, All Rights Reserved