Can you help solve Shields sextant mystery?


I know that many of you like to solve puzzles, so here’s a little teaser for you.

Adam Bell, Assistant Keeper, Social History, at Tyne & Wear Archives And Museums, contacted me after a chap called Des McLindon got in touch with him with a query regarding an old sextant in his possession.

In an email to Adam, Des wrote: “As you will see from the images of my old sextant,the coat of arms are from your town.

“What has always intrigued me is why the coat of arms on a working instrument?

“I bought the sextant many years ago, and having recently retired, I am trying to put an end to the mystery.”

His questions to Adam are:

Was it a prize or rescue presentation? What is its age? Was it from a batch or was it made as a one-off?

“The design on the arc has been altered to fit the coat of arms, so this suggest specially manufactured for person or a purpose,” surmises Des.

In his reply Adam writes: “It was interesting to see the pictures of the old sextant with the coat of arms of South Shields.

“I’m afraid our keeper of maritime history has recently retired, and we do not currently have a specialist working in this field. As such, I am unable to accurately answer any of your questions.

“However, it is a possibility, as you say, that the existence of the coat of arms may indicate that the sextant was given as a prize or presentation? Perhaps it had a connection with South Shields Marine School (now South Tyneside College).

With the mystery still unresolved, Adam is hoping that one of you can help. Please get in touch if you can shed any light on the puzzle.