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I believe this instrument dates to about 1845. It carries the label of Mattie Bros. of North Shields and Cardiff. It has an 11-inch (28 cm) index arm and an ivory scale marked from zero to 105 degrees.

Octants were invented in 1731. Over the course of the next 100 years, minor modifications were made to them. I like the later ones because they're slightly more complex and they mark the end of the era of the wooden octant, among the last to be made substantially by hand.

Here's a great example. I believe this instrument dates to about 1845. It carries the label of Mattie Bros. of North Shields and Cardiff. It has an 11-inch (28 cm) index arm and an ivory scale marked from zero to 105 degrees.

This is an interesting instrument in that it has seen a lot of service and repair in its working life, certainly showing its years. It obviously meant a great deal to the mariner who depended on it.

The left arm of the frame shows an ancient, boxed repair of the ebony wood where the frame joins the arc. You can see it on the back. A filter glass is missing, but that is common with these old instruments.

I found this octant on the Massachusetts coast so it may well have seen service on a whaler.
Its case, probably the original, features an inlaid whalebone star on the lid. This "north star" symbolized good luck and a quick voyage home for whalers.

 
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