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Matthew Berge (d. 1819) worked for Jesse Ramsden in London, succeeded to the business after Ramsden’s death in 1800, used the Ramsden dividing engine, and numbered his sextants in the sequence begun by Ramsden. This example was made in the early 1800s. It has a "double" brass frame and a silvered scale. The inscription on the arc reads "Berge London late Ramsden" and "1513." The scale is graduated every 15 minutes from -2° to +136° and read by vernier with tangent screw and magnifier.
A label in the box relates the instrument’s history. "SEXTANT owned and used by JOHN C. FREMONT on his trip across the continent to CALIFORNIA. Presented by his Daughter, ELIZABETH B. FREMONT, to HON. CHARLES SILENT and by him to FRANK J. THOMAS. Loaned to and used by WELLS MORRIS on U.S. Destroyer "MUGFORD" in GREAT WAR."
Ref: A. Stimson, "The Influence of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich upon the Design of 17th and 18th Century Angle-Measuring Instruments at Sea," Vistas in Astronomy 20 (1976): 123-130.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Berge, Matthew
place made
United Kingdom: England, London
sextant: 10 5/8 in x 9 1/4 in x 3 9/16 in; 26.9875 cm x 23.495 cm x 9.04875 cm
box: 11 1/4 in x 12 3/4 in x 4 3/4 in; 28.575 cm x 32.385 cm x 12.065 cm
overall in box: 4 13/16 in x 11 1/4 in x 12 1/2 in; 12.22375 cm x 28.575 cm x 31.75 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Wells Morris, Jr.
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Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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