Equatorial Sextant

William Austin Burt submitted this model of his new equatorial sextant to the U.S. Patent Office in 1856. According to the published patent (#16,002), this instrument could be used to take azimuths, altitude, and time with one observation, and thus enable one to easily obtain the position and bearing of a ship at sea. Burt’s design was ingenious, but this instrument never found much of a market. Burt is better remembered for the solar compass that he introduced in the 1830s.
Ref: John S. Burt, They Left Their Mark. A Biography of William Austin Burt (Rancho Cordova, Ca., 1985), pp. 128-130.
Currently not on view
Object Name
equatorial sextant
date made
Burt, William A.
overall: 11 7/8 in x 10 1/4 in x 5 5/8 in; 30.1625 cm x 26.035 cm x 14.2875 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
patent number
Measuring & Mapping
Science & Mathematics
Invention and the Patent Model
Patent Models
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Patent Models
Invention and the Patent Model
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Approved comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about your own artifacts or comment on their value, rarity, or collectibility.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.