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Explorer's Sextant by Matthew Berge (late Ramsden) c. 1800

Full miniature sextant signed Berge London late Ramsden, numbered 1554 on the rear, with silver scales, vernier and scale reflector and five coloured filters. This is contained in a fitted mahogany box, (missing lock) with three telescopes, one extendable, and a screw-on eyepiece with a rotatable turret consisting of three red filters of increasing strength and one clear, fitting each of the telescopes together with a adjustable magnifying lens on an arm for reading the vernier scale plus a wood and brass screw-in handle. The decades preceding and after 1800 have been called the great age of exploration and miniature sextants were made as a light weight GPS of the period for travelling, navigation and map making. This sextant complete with its box weighs just 587 grams and is only 5.5" (14 cm) across the widest point of the box. I have seen other miniature sextants, but never one so comprehensive, as fine and as early as this example. Despite its size this is a very serious instrument. Matthew Berge was the 'head man' in Jesse Ramsden's large workshop at 199 Piccadilly, London, which he inherited along with Jesse Ramsden's dividing engine in 1800. This latter was invented and built in the 1770s by Jesse Ramsden and made possible for the first time in history, really accurate dividing of circular arcs thereby creating a new class of highly accurate scientific instruments for astronomers, surveyors etc. (As a result Ramsden's workshop held the Admiralty contract to divide the scales of all navigational instruments, regardless of the maker, used by the British navy in his workshop). When Berge ingherited the business on Ramsden's death he first signed his name on the instruments he manufactured followed by the words "late Ramsden" to indicate continuity and quality before changing to signing his name only subsequently. This dates this sextant between 1800 to circa 1802. Condiotion: the mirrors are in generally excellent condition for the age of the instrument though there are a couple of thin dark lines across the larger mirror at the apex of the instrument (caused by scratching on the rear?) the smaller half silvered glass is in good condition. All filters are present original and unbroken. Original lacqer is lacking. All working parts function correctly with no repairs or defects. The wood case is in good condition though there is some evidence of minor repairs. To the best of my knowledge every part and screw of this instrument is original. Box diamensions 5.5" (14 cm) x 4.25" (11 cm) x 2" (5 cm)


Explorer's Sextant by Berge late Ramsden 1

Explorer's Sextant by Berge late Ramsden 2

Explorer's Sextant by Berge late Ramsden 3

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