& Co., Ca 1850
Rare Brass Quintant –
2012 by Land And Sea Collection™, All Rights Reserved
PRESENTED is a very rare Mid 19th Century brass,
ladder frame quintant reading to 155° along a graduated arc with vernier, and brass fittings. Engraved at mid-center
at the bottom of the arc in early Copper Plate Script is, “Spencer Browning & Co. London”. This company was one of
England’s foremost early instrument makers and ranked up there with Throughton. It comes with an incomplete high
powered telescope and a sighting tube and is housed in an early style “Fan shaped” Mahogany box rather than the later
style square ones. Serial number 4417 is engraved above the maker’s name. This instrument has been a prized
possession in a private collection for the last 50 years and a custom display stand commissioned by the deceased
former owner is included.
Spencer, Browning & Co. is made mention of on page 64 and 69 of the epic book, “Sextants
at Greenwich”, by Bruyns which catalogs the collection of the British National Maritime Museum at Greenwich,
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.
Makers 1550-1851 (London, 1995), p. 261.
INSTRUMENT CONDITION: The mirrors are in surprisingly good condition for their age and use
at sea. The high powered telescope has its objective lens, but is missing the second or ocular lens which makes it unusable.
Hence, this instrument is for display only. And in that regard it makes a wonderful conversation piece. The beautifully
turned Ebony handle is perfect. The index arm clamp, and swing arm magnifier are complete and in good working
order. Both sets of shades, i.e., filters are complete without imperfections. It was polished and lacquered some
time ago and this still looks fresh.
CASE: The Fan
shaped case is sound, but has some age cracks on the bottom where there is a small piece missing. The instrument
and it’s accessories are housed in holders. One block for holding the handle is missing, but was not necessary.
There are two latches and a lock, but no key, and no handle. It has an old patina and the normal nicks and scrapes of age.
The instrument is complete with:
Adjustable horizon mirror on turntable
One adjustment wrench for turntable
powered collimation scope missing lens
The polished arc and platinum scale is calibrated -5 to +155 degrees with a vernier scale
reading from the right from 0 to 10 arc seconds in 2 arc second intervals. The quintant has four shades
with rounded bottoms for the index mirror and three round shades for the horizon mirror. The telescope’s distance
from the frame may be adjusted by turning a knob at the back of the rising piece.
Maker’s name in Copper Plate Script
Vernier reading from 0″ to 20″ from
Rear machinery showing telescope mount,
and adjustable rising piece.
CERTIFICATE: There is no certificate which is customary with antique instruments.
However, the quintant’s index error, I.E. 2′ 15″ is marked in pencil just above the label.
A very rare and important Royal Blue label from Spencer Browning is on the inside top cover of the case and is in perfect
Spencer, Browning & Co. Late Spencer Browning
Manufacturers of Mathematical, Nautical, Optical & Surveying Instruments
Factors, Flag makers & Chart Sellers
III Minories, 6 Vine Street, America Square London. Sole Patentees
& Manufacturers of Friends “Pelorus” & Indicator Compass
S.B. & Co. beg to caution the public generally,
more particularly of Liverpool and the United States of America, against Instruments (sextants and quadrants especially) having
a portion of the name of their firm (Spencer and Co.) put on them. The advertisers are responsible only for the quality
of those having the full name “Spencer, Browning and Co.” the house having now enjoyed a reputation second to none for the
superiority of their Nautical and other instruments for eighty years, of which unprincipled manufacturers have been for some
time taking surreptitious advantage. The genuineness of S.B. and Co.s Quadrants
may be tested by the letters S.B.R.(connected) being stamped on the arc, to imitate which is actionable.
in all, a highly desirable and exceptionable example from one of the best known English instrument makers with their
Royal Blue label on the top inside lid of the case below.
Length of index arm 9
Radius of index arm 8 4/8″
Width of frame at arc 10 1/4″
43 x 35 mm
mirror 30 x 23 mm
2 Lbs 12 oz