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    Re: Dating Hughes and Son sextants
    From: Bill Morris
    Date: 2020 Jan 4, 23:13 -0800

    I am afraid I have to disagree with most of what Fred and David have written about this sextant being a fake. In the first place there is nothing to gain by faking a Husun sextant.There are plenty of them around and they are not especially valuable. It does not match the "Mate" sextant because it isn't one. These seem to date from after WWII as a medium quality economy instrument affordable in the deprived state that  post-war Britain found itself in.

    I confirm that Hughes and Son sold sextants to retailers to add their own names. J Sewill of Liverpool was one and Wilfred O White and John Bliss were two others. Sewills also sold under their name chronometers whose movements were made by a variety of makers. Lately a few soviet era SNO-T sextants have appeared with Sewill's name, with the addition of a micrometer vernier and full-view horizon mirror.

    Taking Fred's points in order:

    There is nothing unusual about the arc covering 135 degrees. I have three Husuns three circles that do so and the 5 degree divisions are also numbered.

    The horizon mirror adjusting knobs are not knobs but threaded covers that protect the adjusting screws.This can also be seen on a highly stylised advertisement in the front of Vols I and II of the 1938 Admiralty Manual of Navigation as well as in Niall's photos..

    The index mirror adjusting screw has, like the hidden horizon mirror screws, a capstan head.

    The X 3.5 telescope is a "special" with a 42 mm diameter objective lens. This gives the Galilean telescope a wider field of view. It was normally painted black.

    The Hususn badge is authentic and in this era was of brass, not white metal.

    The lamp wiring is secured to the rear edge of the index arm by J-shaped clibs, held by screws inserted from the back.

    Felts _are_ present, on the keepers inside the lid, usual for Hughes and Son.

    The walls of the case were routinely finely finished pre-WWII. Some made during WWII have a label apologising for the "War finish"..

    Pre WWII, the crinkle finish to the frames was very fine. The index arms were either crinkle finished or, in earlier examples, had a very fine black lacquer finish.

    The battery handles were indeed made of wood pre-WW II.

    Heads of screws were routinely left unpainted but polished and lacquered.

    The Hughes and Son  case interiors, latches and other case furniture shows a good deal of variation over time.

    The National Physical Laboratory "A" certificate and the screw covers were by the turn of the century two of the requirements for sextants purchased by Royal Navy cadets.

    It is not my experience that most sextants have battered or careworn cases with remnant of labels attached. Some are indeed battered and have shrinkage cracks, but most seems to have been respected as containing an essential "tool of the trade", costing about a months wages in the 1930s, and of course, many yachtsmen set out with the good intention of learning celestial navigation in night classes and then never use the sextant again. I have though a very high end Heath and Co sextant which has a pristine case enclosed in a heavy leather carrying case covered with labels.

    Though I don't think this instrument has been restored I cannot agree, as some would argue, that a sextant should not be restored or that doing so negates any value it might have as an antique. When instruments like sextants and chronometers were serviced it was routine for inctrument makers of old to polish screw heads, touch up or repain when needed, resilver dials, straighten or replace that which was bent; and noone I suggest would argue that restoring a vintage vehicle to a near-new state would lower its value.

    Bill Morris


    New Zealand

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