A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: David Pike
Date: 2020 Jan 4, 15:07 -0800
Re the continuing debate:
I was unhappy about this sextant, but I thought I’d wait and see what others said. There are a lot of Hughes parts there, but it all seems too perfect and some bits don’t seem quite right. It’s certainly modelled on a Hughes three circle sextant, but it’s not a ‘Mates’. Apart from the 135 degree arc compared to 130, there are many other tiny differences which become apparent when two 24” monitors are placed together and Niall’s photo compared to a real ‘Mate’s’. The real ‘Mate’s’, crinkle black and later ‘curdled silver’ painted, had what appear to be cast frames with quite small triangular holes. Niall's is a very fine cut frame and possibly larger frame. Also, the micrometre guard is a tighter curve and might have been re-shaped. The ‘Mate’s’ arc is inscribed H.Hughes & Son Ltd. London., whereas Niall’s arc is inscribed H. Hughes & Son Ltd. ?? Fenchurch St. Did the ‘Mates’ ever have a more expensive brother; the ‘Master’ perhaps? It’s also possible this was a special model produced for J Sewill Ltd who certainly existed, see photo.
The silly thing is, although apparently non-standard, so many of the bits will have been around the Hughes factory. E.g. those box closing knobs appear on Hughes Seaplane Sextant Boxes. The scopes are not the standard Hughes 2.5x star and 5x Inverting, but I’ve seen that black chunky star scope and what look like two inverting telescopes in some sale room ads for Hughes sextants, typically https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/658862620455901400/ . My main worry though was that for a 1939 sextant everything is just too 'clean and new' looking. Everything is there, and the box is just too undamaged. Most boxes, apart from being unvarnished inside, have the remnants of 80 years wear and sticky labels on the outside, and 45 degree chiselled mitres on the scope housings, not nicely rounded corners. To put the best interpretation on it, this sextant has either been kept in perfect conditions and seen very little use, or has been professionally restored in the last 30 years or so. I’d be interested to see what Bill Morris has to say about it. DaveP.