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Box (detail), for reflecting circle

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probably made in Paris

Box (detail), for reflecting circle
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Reflecting circles were used to measure angles necessary for finding longitude. This is a detail of the wooden box for a 'Borda' type brass reflecting circle. The circle was made around 1820, probably by Etienne Lenoir, a scientific instrument maker based in Paris.

The box has three trade labels pasted to the inside of the lid, which reveal some of this particular instrument's history. The uppermost label is that of Lenoir, and gives his address as '340 rue St Honore' which dates the instrument to between 1818 and 1828. The second and third labels belong to provincial instrument makers and probably date from occasions where the instrument was overhauled, at Brest or St. Malo.

The reflecting circle was devised in the 1750s by the German astronomer Tobias Mayer (1723-62). A number of improvements to the instrument were published by the Chevalier de Borda (1733-1799) and gave it its alternative name.

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