An Early Brass Quintant – Sextant
PRESENTED is a very rare
Mid 19th Century brass, Plum shaped frame quintant reading to 150° along a graduated platinum 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”
above “Sold by Dobbie & Orkiney, Glasgow. The serial number 5276 is above 75°. This company was the sucessor by change
in name to the famous Spencer, Browning & Rust and both were acknowledged as two of England’s foremost early instrument
makers and ranked alongside Throughton Brothers. It comes with a high powered telescope for colllimation, a star scope, a
sighting tube and an extension tube, and is housed in a beautiful Mahogany box with a pleasing patina.
MAKERS INFORMATION from a previous label:
Spencer, Browning & Co. Late Spencer Browning & Rust
Manufacturers of Mathematical,
Nautical, Optical & Surveying Instruments
Bunting 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.
FURTHER REFERENCES: 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, England.
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.
British Scientific Instrument Makers 1550-1851 (London, 1995), p. 261.
INSTRUMENT CONDITION: There is an extra
extesnion tube for use with the high powered scope. The index mirror is in excellent condition and the horizon mirror is slightly
hazy. 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. Missing are a tiny screw driver for
the miors and a pick for the turntable. It was recently polished and lacquered to show its beautiful workmanship. This instrument
is in overall excellent condition and is suitable for a high quality collection of instruments or as a important gift.
The square case has an age crack across the top, but is sound. And the brass scalloped insert, which is normally
missing, is present. The instrument and it’s accessories are housed in holders. There are two latches and a lock, but no key,
and no handle. It has a wonderful old patina that only comes with natural aging. Expect the normal nicks and scrapes from
years of use.
The instrument is complete with:
One sighting tube
One low powered Star scope
Adjustable horizon mirror on turntable
One high powered collimation scope with extra extenstion tube
Missing are a thin screwdriver and a small pick.
The polished arc and platinum scale is calibrated
-5 to +150 degrees with a vernier scale reading from the right from 0 to 10 arc seconds in 2 arc second intervals. The quintant
has four partialy rounded shades 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 & dealer’s name in Copper Plate Script
Vernier reading from 0″ to 20″ from right
Machinery showing swing arm magnifier, and adjustable telescope
CERTIFICATE: There is no certificate which is
customary with antique instruments.
All in all, a highly desirable and exceptionable
example from one of the best known English instrument makers.
Length of index arm 9 3/4″
Radius of index arm 8 3/4″
Width of frame at arc 10 1/2″
Index mirror 50
x 35 mm
Horizon mirror 30 x 23 mm
Weight 2 Lbs 12 oz
Case 10″ x10 3/4″ x 4 7/8″