The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Va., has welcomed into its impressive collection of nautical instruments a 17th-century astrolabe, predecessor to the sextant. The Museum paid $161,000 at a Sotheby’s auction for the Portuguese instrument, found in the Cape Verde islands in Nov. 1999.
The museum’s senior curator of navigation instruments announced that the purchase of the astrolabe – inscribed with the date 1645 and the maker: Nicola[o?] Rvffo – represents the last piece needed to make the Museum’s collection complete. The device will be examined and its condition stabilized before going on permanent display at The Mariners’ Museum Age of Exploration gallery, according to spokesman Justin Lyons.