Sestrel Hand Bearing Compass by Henry Browne & Sons Ltd
A fine example that comes complete with its original fitted deck box for safe storage aboard whilst not in use. Henry Browne and Son Ltd was founded in the nineteenth century and were based at Station Works, Wakering Road, Barking, Essex. They were respected British instrument makers who made fine quality compasses, ships clocks, barometers, inclinometers, sextants and chandlery items for over 140 years; ‘Sestrel’ was the company Trade Mark. Henry Browne Ltd was sold to John Lilley & Gillie Ltd and SIRS Navigation, both UK companies, in 1993. This firmly established these companies as the leading UK manufacturer of nautical instruments. Our compass is built to the highest specification and being finished in battleship grey we speculate it may have once served with the Royal Navy. We believe the bowl and handle to be made of bronze although we stand to be corrected on this. It is engraved ‘Henry Browne & Son Ltd. Barking & London No. 4340, Trade Mark Sestrel and made in England’ along the top edge. It is fitted with a wet card compass with cardinal points and sighting prism. This is fitted with a celluloid panel for writing down compass bearings taken. The handle is also made from highest quality brass with a wooden grip over. The screw base when opened reveals a void for dry cell batteries to provide back light to the compass card when used at night. The compass bowl is marked ‘Fill Only with water alcohol mixture.930 SP.GR.’ This pattern of compass often has the bowl stripped and polished but like all scientific instruments we prefer to leave in service condition which also is preferable from a value point of view. The compass card swings freely and the sighting prism is in perfect condition. Whilst this item is for sale as a collectable subject to testing and a minor top up of the compass oil we see no reason why it should not go back to sea and would look perfect mounted in the cabin of a classic yacht. The fitted teak case shows some age wear to the varnish but is otherwise in perfect condition. It is fitted with a fold down polished brass handle to the top. The front Perspex also carries a celluloid plaque attached to door panel reading "Sestrel" Henry Browne & Son Ltd. The instrument height is 10” (25 cm) It is interesting to note SIRS Navigation still offer virtually the same model in their current range marketed under the name Radiant and is made to a NATO specification for both the military and private sectors and we were advised these retail for £895.00. Our earlier model is significantly cheaper!