Mahogany-boxed chronometer

This mahogany-boxed chronometer served me for many of my navigational years. Some youngsters today might wonder why you need a bloody clock to tell you where you are as all you need is GPS gadget. Well, well, begorre, aren’t you smart, particularly as this clock doesn’t tell you where you are, it only tells you the time exactly to the second. And as a few seconds of time mean a few nautical miles in space, seconds are precious to keep a ship away from the rocks. To measure the distance travelled in a north-south direction you don’t need a clock but for the east-west direction you need one if you use the sun or the stars as your waypointers.

Dutch, french and english clockmakers worked very hard in the 18th cent. to produce a clock that would reliably tell the time in a rolling ship at sea with great temperature changes. The british government offered a prize of 20 000 pounds. John Harrison produced the perfect clock but received part of his money years later, a few days before his death. All governments were, are, and will be fatally flawed.

Mahogany-boxed chronometer

I had the oils of this Kelvin White & Hutton clock checked in Paris in 1966 and it kept on telling me the time faithfully, which my rolex watch did not. You see, no clock can be made that keeps perfect time, it either gains or loses a bit. The most important character of a chronometer is that the rate of gain or loss is regular. At a loss of one second/24hrs. you know that after ten days you’re ten seconds behind and you amend your navigational calculations accordingly. That regularity makes a chronometer and this one has it. Not my rolex, it might lose 2 seconds in one day and gain 3 the next day.

This is a two-day movement like most chronometers of that 1880 to 1920 period, so you had better not forget to wind it. Regulations said I must have two of them but that was too pricey for me. I always arrived spot on where I had decided to go.

If the skipper of the ‘Birkenhead’ had taken a starsight the evening before he lost his ship and worked out his position with the aid of his chronometer, I would not have been able to write ‘Sink The Birkenhead’.

Mahogany-boxed chronometer
ZAR 26.000.00 [includes packaging and postage]



These pictures are of my old sextant with which I succeeded many perfect landfalls and knew my position at sea within a mile as long as clouds didn’t obscure my vision of the stars. She is made by Heath & Co Ltd, Crayford, London, complete with telescopes and with a fine silvered vernier you cannot wish to have a better instrument at sea. The famous Weilbach people from Copenhagen checked her out in 1973 and found her to be A1. More enquiries are welcome.


ZAR 22.000.00 [includes packaging and postage]



These pictures are of a scrimshaw, a tooth of a sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus). At a length of 180mm. this is a large specimen and must have come out of a fully-grown bull-whale. The sperm whale hunters of the 19th century, mostly americans from Massachusetts, must have been a tough and courageous crowd to go and harpoon by hand whales that were at least twice the size of their 22 foot boats.

Those whales cannot be compared to the placid Southern Right whales (Eubalaena australis) that swim for six months of the year in front of my house. As you see, a sperm whale has bloody great teeth, a lot of them, to go and do battle with the giant squid that he might find 3 km. down in the ocean. Yes, 3000 meters, how he or she does it no one knows. What knowledge we have of these extraordinary animals has been gained from the study of their corpses. What could we have learned from the study of Beethoven’s corpse?

ScrimshawAnyway, they have these teeth and some whaler sailors spent their spare time carving and decorating them. This artist must have sailed on the ‘Samuel’ and he even put some relief in the waves.

Care must be taken when buying scrimshaws because during the last 50 years plastic copies have been made. You can ask me how to detect them.

ZAR 18.000.00 [includes packaging and postage]

One Response to Rare nautical items for sale

  1. justib says:

    I recently came across a heath and co clock much like the one above from my uncle can you tell me about it? I could send you a picture if you desire. Thanks in advance. Justin leola south dakota

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