Jason Clarke Antiques

Cased Victorian Naval Station Pointer by Henry Hughes & Son London


For sale a cased Victorian naval station pointer or three arm protractor by Henry Hughes of 59 Fenchurch Street, London.

Used for coastal navigation, this superbly crafted brass station pointer has a circular scale with central indented cross bar for fixing a central position on a map. The central arm is fixed to a first coastal position whilst the two outer arms are fixed to two other coastal positions with the use of a sextant. The triangulation of these points would have allowed for accurate positioning whilst a vessel is nearing landfall. This quality example has the addition of two beautifully engineered verniers for adjusting the angle of the outer arms and three brass extending arms which may be screwed to the main unit for measuring longer distances or for larger scale maps. The station pointer is complete with its original mahogany box with original fitted interior. Inside the box is a trade label for Henry Hughes & Son Marine Opticians, 59 Fenchurch St, London. 

This is an early example of a Hughes station pointer being engraved with the serial, “No 592”, and it is further engraved, “H Hughes & Son. 59 Fenchurch St, London”.

The retailer Henry Hughes came from a long line of London clockmakers but his scientific instrument making business was established in 1838. Noted for its life size wooden figure of a seaman with sextant displayed outside the front door, Hughes premises at Fenchurch Street was a popular destination for merchant and Royal Navy seaman alike and Hughes gained much business from the Admiralty in the nineteenth century due to the quality and precision of his instruments. The founder died in 1879 leaving the business to his son Alexander and it was later incorporated as Henry Hughes & Son Ltd in 1903 and ran successfully until its premises were destroyed during the blitz in 1941. Owing to the devastation, Hughes entered into a collaboration with Kelvin, Bottomley & Baird in the same year and later amalgamated in 1947 to become Kelvin & Hughes. They continue to operate to this day under the name Kelvin Hughes Ltd under part ownership by ECI Partners.

Station Pointers of this age are rare to find and this example is of the utmost quality. Hughes’ instruments are always beautifully manufactured and this is no exception. A lovely piece of maritime navigational equipment and in superb order.

Circa 1870

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