Original British Ship's Octant by Spencer & Co. London - Sold in Massachusetts and Named to Capt. J. Jones
Original Item: One of a Kind. Spencer & Company worked in LONDON, England between 1788 and 1840, but in the later years were known as Spencer, Browning and Rust Company. Nautical Instruments have been the life blood and Ocean Navigation since ancient times. Sextants, Octants and Quadrants: all played their part however you need to know what you are talking about to tell the differences in applications and uses.
An octant was intended for measuring altitudes above the horizon, so an angular range to 90 degrees was all that was necessary and a measurement to within a few minutes of arc was usually adequate for navigation. It was the predecessor of the Sextant, which had an extended angular range that allowed a large number of uses.
Here we have what we understand is an "OCTANT", which has a maximum angle measured of 110 degrees, short of the typical 140 read by a sextant. This fine example made by a well established London Maker, SPENCER & Co. of LONDON, who were in existence from 1788. This example is made apparently of an Ebony frame with brass fittings and inlaid with inscribed Ivory or Bone. It measures approximately 13 inches by 10 inches.
The octant comes in its wooden case, which itself is 14 inches by 12 inches, and has a very interesting trade label on the inside:
NAUTICAL INSTRUMENT MAKER,
AND DEALER IN,
Nautical Books, &c. &c.
No. 69 NORTH WATER ST., NEW-BEDFORD.
New Bedford, Massachusetts was a big center of the Whaling industry during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, which is right around the time period this octant is from. North Water Street is today in the heart of historic New Bedford, and No. 69 is just across the street from the New Bedford Whaling Museum.
This set was purchased many years ago from the foremost dealer in New England Whaling items, who is now long deceased. He stated that it was used on the Whaling Ships that traveled World's Ocean looking to harvest these magnificent creatures for among other things their OIL. The instrument itself in inscribed CAPT. J. JONES, who possibly was a Whaling Ship Captain, a great research opportunity. In fine condition, and we assume complete, though we do not know how to use the instrument. There is also some degradation to the mirrors that allow it to function. The three colored lenses still move correctly, tough a lot of the workings have not moved in quite some time, so it could use a good servicing and cleaning.
Comes still in its original pine case, which is in fine condition, ready to Display or use!
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