Barn find quadrant identified as one of Britain’s earliest scientific instruments

You just never know what you’ve got in the shed. This horary quadrant was found in a bag of old pipe fittings in a shed on a farm in Queensland, Australia, forty years ago. Last year the owner of the quadrant was surfing the internet and came across an article where he recognised not just the same tool, but the same stag-coronet insignia that was on his quadrant (he thought it was an astrolabe) signified it was made for King Richard II (of England).

He subsequently contacted the British Museum, which identified the item sitting on his desk for the last forty years as a 1396 horary quadrant. It will be auctioned next month and is expected to fetch between GBP150,000 and GBP200,000.

Perhaps even more remarkably, the simple quadrant which is used for telling the time, and had been in use for at least 1500 years prior to the making of this peice in 1396, has turned out to be the second oldest British scientific instrument ever discovered, the oldest being the Chaucer astrolabe, dated 1326, which is housed in the British Museum.

Edited from Barn find quadrant identified as one of Britain’s earliest scientific instruments.

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