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    Re: Buying a sextant- a cautionary tale.
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2006 Apr 28, 09:37 +0100

    Thanks to several list members who responded to my question about buying a 
    sextant on ebay, with helpful suggestions.
    > My experience shows up the problems that can occur when you buy
    > something as finicky as a sextant, sight unseen, at auction. Will I
    > be tempted to try again? Probably, yes. What more can I do to avoid
    > another disappointment? I have no idea. Perhaps others, with
    > more experience of these matters, can offer suggestions.
    Such as Fred Hebard who wrote-
    "As Robert Gainer said.  The other thing to do is ask the seller to
    email pictures to you.  Most people should have or have a friend with
    a digital camera with enough resolution to show all the arc
    divisions.  Of course you would need two pictures to avoid the index
    arm obscuring.  Not everybody will have the skill to take a usable
    picture, but...."
    Well, that ebay listing showed several photos, rather good ones. One showed 
    the complete sextant with its arc, but the divisions of
    a Vernier sextant are so fine (at one-sixth of a degree) that you couldn't 
    expect them to show up on such a picture. And such
    markings, on a highly reflective silver surface, are hard to photograph at the 
    best of times. But there was a photo of a small part
    of the arc, taken close up, which did indeed show the divisions of the arc 
    rather clearly, and satisfied me that all was well.
    Needless to say, the part of the arc that was pictured was NOT the section in 
    which the divisions had been polished away! You live
    and learn, I suppose...
    So I'm still unsure what more I could have done to ensure I was getting a 
    useful instrument. In many cases, a seller will plead
    ignorance about the technical details, which could make matters worse. In my 
    transaction, I was dealing with someone who was, or had
    been, a professional navigator, and should have known better.
    I am apprehensive, now, about further ebay transactions; but I  may get tempted again.
    contact George Huxtable at george@huxtable.u-net.com
    or at +44 1865 820222 (from UK, 01865 820222)
    or at 1 Sandy Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.

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