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Postcard of Octant.
© National Museums Scotland


An octant is a navigational instrument used for measuring angles necessary for determining a ship's position at sea. This example dates from around 1850. It was retailed by Duncan McGregor, a scientific instrument maker based in Glasgow and Greenock.

The octant has an ebony frame with brass fitments and an ivory arc. It is signed 'D. McGregor. Glasgow and Greenock'.

Duncan McGregor first appeared in the 1844 Glasgow street directory as a nautical instrument and chronometer maker and chart seller at 24 Clyde Place.He is thought to be the 'Mr. McGregor' whose premises were looted in the Glasgow Bread Riots of 1848.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-102-773-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1980.188
Date: Around 1850
c. 1850
Material: Ebony, ivory arc, brass fitments. Inscription: D. McGregor, Glasgow & Greenock.
Dimensions: 247 mm radius
What: Octant / box
Who: Arthur Frank Collection of Scottish Scientific Instruments
D. McGregor and Co., Glasgow / Greenock (Maker)
Where: Scotland, Lanarkshire, Glasgow
Scotland, Renfrewshire, Greenock
Description: 10" octant with ebony frame, brass fitments, ivory arc and fitted case, signed by D. McGregor of Glasgow and Greenock, c. 1850
  • Clarke, T.N., Morrison-Low, A.D. & Simpson, A.D.C. Brass & glass scientific instrument making workshops in Scotland as illustrated by instruments from the Arthur Frank Collection at the Royal Museum of Scotland. Edinburgh: NMS, 1989. p 244 
  • T.N. Clarke, A.D. Morrison-Low and A.D.C. Simpson (1989): "Brass and Glass 
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