A 7in. radius vernier [government issue] sextant by Elliott Brothers, circa 1866. The oxidized brass lattice frame with polished arc signed and stamped Elliott Brother's, 30 Strand London 2625, together with the Government broad arrow mark, inset silvered scale divided 5°-0°-165°, vernier with clamp and fine screw adjustment, swivel magnifier with hinged light diffuser, adjustable sighting tube mount, index and horizon mirrors and seven shades, the reverse with three pin feet and rosewood handle with clamp hole, contained within fitted wooden box with three sighting tubes and manuscript label pasted inside lid inscribed in ink 'Sextant used by Dr Livingstone on his African Travels. Presented to Henry M. Stanley in grateful acknowledgement of his invaluable services rendered to my Father in Africa. Agnes Livingstone - Bruce Edinburgh 20th Nov. 1878' with a further label pasted to outside of lid inscribed 'Dr Livingstone's Sextant 1866 - to May 1873', securing hooks, drop handle and lock with key.
5 x 10½ x 10¾in. (125 x 265 x 275mm.)
A wonderful scientific instrument linking two great explorers Livingstone and Stanley. When Livingstone left Stanley in Tabora on 14 March 1872, Stanley had given Livingstone most of the goods which had been brought up from Zanzibar (3,000 yards of barter cloth; 16 sacks of beads, 350lbs of wire, clothes, tools, rifles and 4,000 rounds of ammunition). They parted good friends, and Stanley was particularly affected by his 5 months stay with this stoic missionary. On Livingstone's death in April 1873, his African friends embalmed his body, made an inventory of his effects and packed them in tin boxes. They carried his possessions and body to Tabora, where they met the second R.G.S. Livingstone Relief Expedition under Cameron. Two of his men, Susi and Chuma, went back to England with his body. Agnes gave this sextant, which had been returned to the family in 1874, to Stanley in 1878, after his return from the Trans-Africa Expedition. Stanley replied in a letter of thanks on 25 November 1878 'there is scarcely anything that I could have appreciated so much!' (the letter sold at Christie's on 27 September 1996, lot 53)