A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Werner Luehmann
Date: 2015 Mar 23, 21:37 +0100
Sorry, you are correct. I didn't read your statement correctly.
But, in respect to your statement that C. Plath closed in 1949, I have different information (source: Friedrich Jerchow: "From Sextant to Sattelite Navigation - 1837 - 1987, 150 years C. Plath", C. Plath, Hamburg, 1987, chapters XVII, XVIII and XIX). According to that C. Plath in Hamburg (factories in Hamburg) never really closed in the years after the war. Between 1945 and 1949 they designed a 35 mm camera (not produced), but designed and produced (or at least tried to produce) a typewriter (named "Passat"). That was done in difficult times under heavy losses of equipment due to dismantling orders. In 1949 Plath could restart its production of sextants and other classical nautical instruments. However, what Plath definately lost due to the outcome of the war were facilities in the eastern part of Germany (East-Prussia) and Zoppot, Poland. That is obviously what the Soviets, as the occupying power there, took and used for the later production. That is why the SOLD sextants and the Soviet IAS-1M are almost identical (minus the "plastic" of the handles, and the rheostat). I own a (late production) SOLD, an IMS-3 and an IAS-1M.
The orign of the name SOLD is obscure. I havn't seen any explanation in any book, including those two issued by Plath or for Plath at the events of their anniverseries (the one mentoined above and one "C. Plath, 1862-1962", Verlag Hanseatischer Merkur, Hamburg 1962). I also have a copy of a German wartime standard navigational handbook ("Lehrbuch der Navigation für die Kriegs- und Handelsmarine", Teil I und Teil II, Arthur Geist Verlag, Bremen, 1943) which describes this sextant in Teil (Part) II, §78 as "Der Soldsextant". No word about the meaning of SOLD or Sold. Not even Peter Ifland in his marvelous "Taking the Stars" book has a clue about it.
In the wartime German air force manuals ("L. Dv. T. 4051", 1940 and "L. Dv. T. 4051/1", 1944) the word SOLD is not used. The instrument is always described as "Libellenoktant mit Mittelungseinrichtung" (spirit level octant with averaging unit).
One possible direction one may be look for the word's origin is where Plath got the patent from. Somewhere (I forgot where) I read that in the late 30s Plath bought such patent from England or France. Maybe somebody knows more about it?
Otherwise, it remains a mystery.
I think I said it was the bubble unit that was issued in the 1960s, not the SOLD, and while Plath did not produce the SOLD after WWII, the USSR did produce a pretty well identical device with rather better protection, as the IMC3. I suspect war reparation materials were used following the forced closure of C Plath in 1949, as some parts like the bubble unit, integrator and clockwork have been copied slavishly.
I have never owned a SOLD, but two members, one from the USA and one from Germany, have been kind enough to allow me to rummage amongst their (the sextants'!) insides.
Have you any guesses as to the origin of "SOLD"? I have hazarded a guess that it is an acronym that includes Sextant and Libelle.