Antique
Early Sextant / Quintant History

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COMMODORE HOBART
OLSON’S
Brass Quintant – Sextant Ca 1860

 

 

For a Quality Gift
or Collection
Copyright 2014 – 2013 by Land And Sea Collection, All
Rights
Reserved
PRESENTED is the personal quinatnt-sextant
of a famous mid-west yachtsman, which he used to navigate the long
distance races on Lake Michigan, probably from 1935 forward until his death.
He also had it with him on at least two ocean passage
aboard ships. Olson was a well
known Milwaukee and Chicago area yachtsman who was a commodore
of the Milwaukee Yacht Club and one of the founders and first
chairman of the Island (Mackinac) Goats Sailing Societey. Beyond his sailboat racing, Hobart
was a very private person and little is known of
his personal life other than he graduated from the University
of Wisconsin in 1923. This is in contrast to his wife, Susan Bolton, ne’ Hayden,
a Chicago socalite whom he married in 1937. At the time of winning Class
“D” in the 1941 Chicago to Mac race, Olson had sailed in nineteen of these
events. His yacht at that time was ”
Duchess”
only 31.6 feet long making her the smallest
boat in the fleet.  Susan Olson was equally active in sailboat racing
and the boat was sometimes entered under her name. She
served three years during WW II as a Navy lieutenant, commissioned a
Navy destroyer, and was active in numerous civic, social and charitable organizations. Susan
died in 1998 at age 93. The couple was childless.
The Chicago to Mackinac Race has been soponsored by
the Chicago Yacht Club
since 1898. At 333 miles, it is the longest fresh water race
in the world and is as challanging as any ocean race of the same
distance.
THE MAKER: Marked on the arc in
the early style Copper Plate script is J.J. Wilson &
Sons, Sunderland, which helps date the instrument as an early style. There are
no other known examples of a sextant or quintant by JJ
Wilson listed
in the comprehensive work,
Sextants at Greenwich or the Webster Database of Instrunment Makers at the Adler
Planitarium, so that it likely was made by one of the
better known makers such as one of the Spencer companies which its design and
seral number sequence closely follows. This would account for its high quality from
an unknown instrument maker.

THE DESIGN

is is a Mid
to late 19th Century brass, ladder frame quintant reading to 150° along a
graduated platinum arc with vernier, and brass fittings. The serial number 6877 is above
75° which is the same position that Spencer, Browning & Rust is know
to have placed it.  Spencer, Browning & Rust and its succesor,
Spencer, Browning, 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, and a
sighting tube,  and is housed in a well worn Mahogany
box.

 

 

 

REFERENCES by omission:

“Sextants at Greenwich”, by Bruyns, which
catalogs the collection of the British National Maritime
Museum at Greenwich, England in which there is no
entry.

LABELS: On the top and front
cover of the box:
 ‘Union Castle Line to/from South &
East Africa, MV Silverpalm, Jova, Pacific and a tax stamp. On the outside
bottom
: a partial sticker with the name ‘Hubert Olson,
date of sailing 19 June ’38, from port of Southampton England’.
On the inside: Service by ‘Hutchinson and
Jackson, Certified Compass Adjusters, Sunderland, 1935’. A partial
label with the inscription ‘Milwaukee Yacht Club – Dutchess’. Marked by pen on
the top of a wood chock, Hobart Olsen, M.Y.C. In addtion to beong used on
Lake MIchigan the quintant crossed
oceans.


 

 

 

 

 

 

INSTRUMENT
CONDITION:
 The index
mirror has one hazy spot, but is otherwise in excellent condition
and the horizon mirror is clear and bright. The Mahogany handle has turned finials. The index arm clamp, and
swing arm magnifier
are complete and in good working order. The holders for both sets
of shades, i.e., filters are present, but one index shade has
a chip on the lens and one has the glass missing. Also, missing is a
glass screen over the vernier, a tiny screw on the magnifier base. and two
lens filters for the ocular lens of the scopes. The original pick
for adjusting the mirrors is present. The instrument was recently polished and lacquered to
show its beautiful workmanship. This instrument is in overall fine
condition and is suitable for a high quality collection of instruments
or as a important gift.

CASE: The square case
has a significant age crack across the top, and bottom, but is sound. There are a series
of shipping labels on the top and bottom. 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

      • One high powered collimation
        scope
      • One adjustment
        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.

Dealer’s name in Copper
Plate Script
Vernier reading from 0″ to 20″ from
right
Horizon
mirror
Index
mirror

 

 

Machinery showing swing arm magnifier, and high
powered collimation
scope

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CERTIFICATE: There is no
certificate which is customary with antique
instruments.

 

All in all, a highly desirable and
exceptionable example which would make a great trophy for some prestigous
sailing event.

 

DIMENSIONS:

Length of index arm 9
1/2″
Radius of index arm 8 3/4″
Width of frame at arc 10 1/2″
Index mirror 42 x 35 mm
Horizon mirror 24 x 24 mm
Weight 3
Lbs 2 1/2 oz

Case 10″ x10 3/4″ x
4 3/4″

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