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 silver 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 drum micrometers 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 and baized interior and has a working replacement key. Inside the box is an ivorine name plate for H Hughes & Son Opticians, 59 Fenchurch St, London.
This is an early example of a Hughes station pointer being engraved with the serial, “No 627”, and it is further engraved, “Henry Hughes & Son. 59 Fenchurch St, London”. The maker Henry Hughes founded the business in 1828. 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 business was 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.