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Backstaff (detail)

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made in London

Backstaff (detail)
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A backstaff is an instrument with two graduated arcs, formerly used in navigation. This is a detail of a wooden backstaff made in England in 1726 by Benjamin Macy, a London-based scientific instrument maker.

The detail shows the inscription on the limb. It reads 'Made by Benjamin Macy for Captain William Cochren, 1726'. Three fleurs-de-lys are engraved at either side of the inscription.

John Davis introduced the back-staff in 1595. It soon became an indispensable navigational tool, remaining popular until it was supplanted by the radically new design of the reflecting quadrant or octant in the latter half of the 18th century.

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