Box Sextant


2 in box sextant with telescopic sight

SKU: 1977/001 Categories: , ,


2 in box sextant with telescopic sight reading to 1 minute of arc. A swiveling arm with a single lens magnifier is attached.

Used for measuring horizontal angles often in conjunction with ranging rods where the accuracy of a theodolite is not required.

The Box Sextant, as its name indicates, is an angular instrument enclosed in a box, which is unscrewed when required for use. It possesses the advantage of being portable and of requiring no other support than the hand. As a pocket instrument its accuracy of reading, in comparison with magnetic instruments, is greatly in its favour. The principle of this instrument resembles that of the optical square in depending primarily upon the following facts:—(1) When a ray of light is reflected at a plane surface the reflection takes place in a plane perpendicular to the reflecting surface, the incident and reflected rays making equal angles with this surface; (2) when a ray of light proceeds in a plane, at right angles to each of two plane mirrors, inclined at any angle to one another, and is successively reflected at the plane surfaces of the mirrors, the total deviation of the ray is double the angle of inclination between the mirrors. The angles so formed by the glass mirrors in the case of the optical square was seen to be fixed at 45°, giving a right angle between two directions; but in the case of the box sextant, one glass, namely, the one containing the complete mirror, is constructed to revolve upon a centre, and worked by means of a curved rack-and-pinion wheel, concealed within the box. The angles are marked to read from zero to 120°.
(Ref: Walmisley A.T. Field Work and Instruments. D Fourdrinier, London. 1900.)

Additional information

Acquisition Number


Item Type

Short Description

Box Sextant

Manufactured by

Date of Manufacture

c. 1900


Black leather case

Supporting Items


Makers Number



Engraved "Elliott Brothers 56 Strand London"

Dimensions (mm)

Sextant: 80(dia) x 60. Telescope: 66(L) x 17(dia).


Date Donated

December 1977


Brass and glass



Display Location