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    Re: Wanted: Small Craft Precision Sextant from Francis Barker
    From: Robert Eno
    Date: 2007 Jan 21, 01:32 -0500

    I have one of these units, purchased from our friend Ken.
    I own it more for the sake of having one in my collection than actually
    using it. Having said that, I have used it on occasion and with mixed
    results. Mine appears to be well-made but I just don't like using it. I find
    the whole thing tedious, especially trying to read that vernier scale, but
    then again, I need reading glasses these days: the old eyes ain't what they
    used to be.
    Anyway, I noted Ken's comment about the shade glasses. Fortunately, mine are
    half-shaded so you can see the horizon.
    In the final analysis and in fairness to the manufacturer, I do not believe
    these Lliliputian devices were ever intended for precision navigation.
    The best "box" sextant I come across was manufactured by Ilon Industries out
    of New York. My late friend John Luykx owned one, and for years, I tried,
    without success to get him to sell it to me. I have not since seen an
    another example of this item, but you can find a photo of one in Ifland's
    "Taking the Stars", on page 49, Fig 55.  I have been scanning e-bay every
    once in a while in search of an Ilon, but always come up with zilch. Could
    be that very few were manufactured in the first place. I would dearly love
    to get my hands on one of these sextants.
    By the way, Alexandre: if you can do lunars with a box sextant....I am not
    even in the same league as you. I have a hard enough time nailing them down
    with my C.Plath. I take my hat off to you Sir.
    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Alexandre E Eremenko" 
    Sent: Sunday, January 21, 2007 11:42 AM
    Subject: [NavList 2116] Re: Wanted: Small Craft Precision Sextant from
    Francis Barker
    > These seem to be really rare.
    > I follow e-bay systematically,
    > and I have never seen one of those
    > on e-bay.
    > In the photo it looks very similar
    > to the box sextants of XIX century.
    > These can be found on e-bay quite frequently.
    > (I was lucky to buy one, by Troughton and Simms,
    > a year ago for
    > a very moderate price, and I find it really
    > excellent. I mean the average of 4-5 observatiopns
    > almost always gives me the result within 1'.
    > Usually even much better than that.
    > I think it is an outstanding performance for a
    > "sextant" that fits in your T-shirt pocket.
    > I can also cite historical evidence:
    > Alexander von Humboldt writes:
    > "I also have a two-inch sextant by Troughton,
    > which I call my snuff-box sextant: it is really incredible
    > what you can do with this little instrument.
    > A single set of observations taken by it
    > of the altitude of the Sun when passing the prime vertical
    > will give the correct time within two or three seconds.
    > Even if this accuracy is purely accidental, I must admit
    > it happens very frequently."
    > This is confirmed by my experience: I even managed
    > to take some Lunars with it from a small boat:-)
    > With accidentally very good results.
    > Alex
    > P.S. One problem with these sextants on e-bay is
    > that there are many fakes, which look VERY much
    > like the real thing. You need really good photos to tell
    > the difference.
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