We had another great Handling History tour with a group from the Virginia Chapter of Sponsored Research Administrators International (SRAI) who were in town for a conference at Christopher Newport University. The group received a tour of the USS Monitor Center and then I met them to look at pieces from our fantastic collection of navigating instruments and a few other wonderful items.
In our Age of Exploration gallery we looked at some of the instruments developed as Europeans began to explore the world around them to find new sources or routes of trade. Instruments included our Mariner’s quadrant (by Jacques Canivet, Paris, circa 1760); our truly fantastic silver-coated Mariner’s astrolabe— (by Nicolao Ruffo, Portugal, 1645); Cross-staff (by Hendrick Noordyk, Netherlands, 1804; Back-staff (by Walter Henshaw, England, 1711); and our 2-Day Marine Timekeeper (by John Arnold, England, ca 1772—this instrument probably traveled with Captain James Cook on his second voyage!). I have reproductions of many of these instruments so I was able to let the group handle them and learn how they would be used by early navigators.