Octant (detail)

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made in England

Postcard of Octant (detail).
© National Museums Scotland

Octant (detail)

An octant is a navigational instrument used for measuring angles necessary for determining a ship's position at sea. This is a detail from a wooden octant made in England around 1750. The octant is unsigned.

The detail shows the boxwood arc and, at the top, an ivory plate inscribed 'G.E. ABS., [the initials of a later owner] 1796'.

The earliest octants were made of mahogany and had diagonal scales on boxwood, as in this example. The fittings were of brass, and the inlaid ivory plate carried the owner's name, or - as here - the maker's inscription.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-190-002-064-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1981.21
Date: Around 1750
c. 1750
Material: Mahogany, boxwood. Inscription: G T ABS 1796
What: Octant
Who: G.T. Abs (Inscribed on the object)
Description: Mahogany and boxwood 18" radius octant, inscribed 'G.E. Abs, 1796', English, c. 1750
  • Bennett, J.A. The Divided Circle: A history of instruments for astronomy, navigation and surveying. Oxford: 1987, pp 132-4 
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