Stackpole & Brother Sextant

This sextant belonged to Columbia University in New York, and probably dates from the 1870s.The frame is brass. The silvered scale is graduated every 10 minutes from -5° to +175° and read by vernier with tangent screw and swinging magnifier to 10 seconds of arc. The inscriptions read "Stackpole & Brother New York" and "1765."
The sextant also has a small bubble level on the index arm. William Harkness, the American astronomer who introduced this feature, said that it "proved a very great convenience and saved much time and trouble."
Ref: "Report of Professor William Harkness, U.S.N.," in B. F. Sands, ed., Reports on Observations of the Total Eclipse of the Sun, August 7, 1869 (Washington, D.C., 1870), p.30.
Deborah J. Warner, "American Octants and Sextants: The Early Years," Rittenhouse 3 (1989): 86-112, on 108-109.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Stackpole & Brother
Physical Description
mahogany (overall material)
brass (overall material)
silver (overall material)
glass (overall material)
raidus: 6 in; 15.24 cm
place made
United States: New York, New York
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Measuring & Mapping
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Columbia University
Additional Media

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