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Usage conditions apply
This sextant was probably made for use in World War I. Brandis termed it a "U.S. Navy surveying sextant, 6 inch radius, reading 30 seconds of arc." New it cost $120. The frame is anodized brass. The silvered scale is graduated every 20 minutes from -5° to +185° and read by vernier with tangent screw and magnifier. The inscriptions read "BRANDIS & SONS, BROOKLYN, N.Y." and "5670." The words "U.S. Navy-N-4705" are scratched onto the arc. The serial number inside the wooden box is 3946.
Ref: Brandis & Sons Mfg. Co., Catalogue No. 20. Instruments of Precision (Brooklyn, n.d.), p. 298.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
ca 1917
Brandis & Sons, Inc.
place made
United States: New York, Brooklyn
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
mahogony (overall material)
glass (overall material)
radius: 6 in; 15.24 cm
overall in case: 5 1/4 in x 9 3/4 in x 10 in; 13.335 cm x 24.765 cm x 25.4 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
C. Richard Hoshaw
World War I
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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I have two Brandis sextants. One (small) like this one that measures 140 mm for the pivot to the bottom of the silver and one (normal) that measures about 182 mm. The normal one is Brandis SN 3114 and does not have a US Navy number. The arm is marked to 155 degrees, reads to about 137 degrees before the vernier stops, and is divided to 10” ( normal for a Class A sextant of the time reflecting the times of lunars). The Small Brandis is SN 3890 and USN #4495. The arm is marked to 185 degrees and is readable to 163 degrees. It’s divided to 30” like the museum copy. No box, scopes, or shades. It’s an oddball in being marked to 180 degrees and only reading to 30”. That’s an unusually large range but not very precise. It’s good enough for navigation and 10” divisions would be almost impossible to read. I’ve never seen anything on why it was made like this. Brandis stopped making sextants about 1932. From what I’ve read, they made a lot of variations.
I recently acquired a similar sextant that I’m trying to find information on. It does not come with a box and it doesn’t seem to have a scope. The inscriptions read.. on the ‘swinging arm’ “Brandis & Sons Inc. Brooklyn New York” on the frame.. U.S. Navy (the letter “N” inside of a square) 1449 It has numerous lenses.
I also acquired a Brandis&Sons&Co. sextant a number of years ago. The number on the shred of label and stamped into the right hand end of the arc is #1786. Brandis & Sons & co. is stamped into the lower brass edge of the arc. US NAVY is stamped on the left arm. Can't seem to find any info online for this specific model. Any suggestions? Thanks
Hello Bob, I saw your post regarding your sextant. I am a member of TIGHAR (, which is an organization for Historic Aircraft Recovery. Their largest project has for 30 years been to unravel the mystery of the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. The numbers on your sextant may be of some interest to TIGHAR. I would encourage you to visit and report details of your sextant and also the sextant box if you have one. Best, Peter
Just purchased an old sextant no. 1899 and curious how to find out who might have used it or when it was used. Are their these types of historical records?
"Does your sextant # 1899 have any other numbers on it? Is it a Brandis & Sons unit? Many Brandis sextants were used by the US Navy, and if so usually have a USNO number etched into the arc of the unit. Brandis 1899 was probably made prior to WWI, but could have still been in use during the War. lots of information on Brandis sextants can be found at at"

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