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probably made in Edinburgh & London

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 was made around 1825, probably by Alexander Adie of Edinburgh. Its scale was made in London by Spencer, Browning and Rust.

An octant is so-called because the scale is one-eighth of a circle, although it can measure 90 degrees using the mirror on the top of the brass radial arm.

Dealings between the firms of Adie of Edinburgh and Spencer, Browning and Rust of London were mutual, with each acting as a specialist supplier of wholesaled items to the other.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-102-800-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1982.57
Date: Around 1825
c. 1825
Dimensions: 11.50"
Who: Adie, Edinburgh (Octant maker)
Spencer, Browning and Rust, London (Scale Maker)
Where: England, London
Scotland, Midlothian, Edinburgh
Description: 11 1/2" octant signed by Adie of Edinburgh, with a scale signed by Spencer, Browning and Rust of London, c. 1825
  • 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. pp 37,58 
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