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Author Topic: Where are the sextant box, the shoe parts, and the corks?  (Read 24212 times)

Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Near the skeleton found on Niku, there were parts of a man's show, parts of a woman's shoe, an empty sextant box, corks on brass chains, and a brass fitting that Gallagher apparently never saw but that he speculated might have been an inverting eye piece for a sextant.

All but the brass fitting were shipped to Suva, Fiji, in 1941, along with the casket containing the remnants of a human skeleton.

All were examined in Suva.

"Sextant box has two numbers on it 3500 ( stencilled ) and 1542 – sextant being old fashioned and probably painted over with black enamel."

Where are these things now?
LTM,

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« Last Edit: June 04, 2012, 07:03:32 AM by Martin X. Moleski, SJ »
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Greg Daspit

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Re: Where are the sextant box, the shoe parts, and the corks?
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2012, 11:29:23 PM »

Marty,
Regarding Gallagher's message "Sextant box has two numbers on it 3500 ( stencilled ) and 1542– sextant being old fashioned and probably painted over with black enamel"

Could Gallagher have meant the Sextant Box was painted over, probably with black enamel? 

The reason I ask is why would a sextant be painted "over" with black enamel? He may have thought it  was painted black by marks in the box but to describe it as painted "over" implies he saw what it was painted originally. Yet he never saw the sextant, only the box.
His statement on this caused much confusion to the people he sent it to, and a missing coma or word could change it's meaning.

See the pictures attached.
The box thought to be Fred's when he was with Pan Am has a strap (I noted this in the mystery gidget thread)
Also, there is a box about the size of a sextant box under the plane in the other picture that has a strap, both boxes look dark colored. Could the box you are looking for be black and have holes in the side? Maybe 2 sets of holes, one set of holes for the strap seen on the clipper and one set when he addapted the strap to tie it down to the cabin of the electra?

Also how well does stained wood wear on the island for 3 years versus wood painted over with black enamel?

Fyi your description says "an empty sextant, corks" 
3971R
 
« Last Edit: June 03, 2012, 11:36:32 PM by Gregory Lee Daspit »
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Where are the sextant box, the shoe parts, and the corks?
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2012, 07:02:47 AM »

Regarding Gallagher's message "Sextant box has two numbers on it 3500 ( stencilled ) and 1542– sextant being old fashioned and probably painted over with black enamel"

Could Gallagher have meant the Sextant Box was painted over, probably with black enamel? 

It seems more likely that he meant the sextant was painted black, rather than the box.

Quote
His statement on this caused much confusion to the people he sent it to, ...

I've held the Bones File in my own hands and read every entry in it several times. 

I didn't find any trace of confusion in it about Gallagher's meaning.

What evidence do you have of confusion?

Quote
Fyi your description says "an empty sextant, corks"

Fixed, thanks.
LTM,

           Marty
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Chris Johnson

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Re: Where are the sextant box, the shoe parts, and the corks?
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2012, 07:05:29 AM »

Quote
sextant being old fashioned and probably painted over with black enamel"

I presume that this is Gallagher making a guess as there was no sextant found?
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Greg Daspit

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Re: Where are the sextant box, the shoe parts, and the corks?
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2012, 09:08:33 AM »

Thanks for the reply Marty,
The evidence I have of confusion is that both Macpherson and Vaskess thought a sextant was found when there was not. I believe the confusion was caused by Gallagher describing two aspects of a sextant. A sextant he did not see since no sextant was found. Only part of an inverting eye piece was found, and he may not have even seen that since it was discarded before shipping the finds out.

Here are the two aspects of the sextant Gallagher describes, again one he did not see.
1.    That “sextant being old fashioned”
2.   That the sextant was “probably painted over with black enamel”

He says "sextant being old fashioned". He does not say he thinks or it probably was old fashioned, he says "Sextant being old fashioned". Maybe he thought the box was old fashioned because it had dove tailed joints? Those were described later by 58.  McDonald Aug 11, 1941 and something Gallagher could actually see to describe.

 Here is the evidence (From bones file, same link you gave):

Telegram 349 Oct 1, 1940 -“Near the skeleton was a box containing an old fashioned sextant”
Comment form Tighar : “ It erroneously reports that a sextant was found.”

 McPherson to Vaskess: “The instrument itself moreover, if a good one, should have engraved on it”
Comment: from Tighar:  “He also thinks that there is a sextant”

Vaskess to Gallagher: “ bones and other finds, including box, sextant and shoe, should be forwarded to Suva”
 Comment form Tighar: “Vaskess still thinks there is a sextant”

Gallagher clarifies “Confidential. Your telegram No. 2, no sextant was found. Only part discovered was thrown away by finder but was probably part of an inverting eyepiece

Marty, The stenciled information is clear but you may want to add dovetailed joints to the description of the box.
 Also, You may want to move my comments since I do not want to cause confusion on what to look for, I just don't know where to move it.
Thanks,
3971R
 
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Where are the sextant box, the shoe parts, and the corks?
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2012, 09:53:27 AM »

Quote
sextant being old fashioned and probably painted over with black enamel"

I presume that this is Gallagher making a guess as there was no sextant found?

Yes.  We don't know what it was about the box that suggested "old fashioned" and
"painted with black enamel." 

Nothing noted in the Bones File touches on these two points--neither confirmation nor contradiction.
LTM,

           Marty
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Where are the sextant box, the shoe parts, and the corks?
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2012, 10:03:41 AM »

The evidence I have of confusion is that both Macpherson and Vaskess thought a sextant was found when there was not. I believe the confusion was caused by Gallagher describing two aspects of a sextant. A sextant he did not see since no sextant was found. Only part of an inverting eye piece was found, and he may not have even seen that since it was discarded before shipping the finds out.

OK, there is unquestionably some confusion about what he found as opposed to what he surmised.  But they sorted that out eventually.

Quote
He says "sextant being old fashioned". He does not say he thinks or it probably was old fashioned, he says "Sextant being old fashioned". Maybe he thought the box was old fashioned because it had dove tailed joints? Those were described later by 58.  McDonald Aug 11, 1941 and something Gallagher could actually see to describe.

Possibly.  But we don't really know what he (or the investigaors) meant by "dove tailed joints."  To a woodworker, they are very distinctive and do, in fact, resemble dove's tails.  All of the Brandis boxes we have seen have "finger joints."  This is a discrepancy between our theory that the numbers on the box represent a Brandis instrument that had been calibrated ("collimated," for those keeping score at home) by the Naval Observatory.

Quote
Marty, The stenciled information is clear but you may want to add dovetailed joints to the description of the box.

If we find a box with those numbers on it, the box itself will determine what kind of joints it had.

Searching  boxes by joint patterns probably isn't going to lead to the Niku box.  That feature isn't sufficiently distinctive to pick the box out of a crowd.  3500-1542 are sufficiently distinctive.
LTM,

           Marty
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« Last Edit: June 04, 2012, 12:02:36 PM by Martin X. Moleski, SJ »
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Greg Daspit

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Re: Where are the sextant box, the shoe parts, and the corks?
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2012, 10:58:36 AM »

Thanks Marty, I agree the stenciled numbers should be enough.
I was just offering additional information in case the box may have been re finished on the inside and outside. If someone was using the box and the box was in bad condition from being out in the open for 3 years and stained on the inside from food kept in it, they may have refinished it. 
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Monte Chalmers

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Re: Where are the sextant box, the shoe parts, and the corks?
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2012, 06:55:31 PM »

Yes.  We don't know what it was about the box that suggested "old fashioned" and
"painted with black enamel." 

The sextant box probably had contoured  and padded  internal supports for the sextant .  How about the possibility that some of this black paint on the sextant was transferred to the box support  padding?  It is common for brushed-on  paint to transfer since it lacks the factory-type baking process.

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« Last Edit: July 31, 2012, 06:58:58 PM by Monte Chalmers »
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Tim Collins

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Re: Where are the sextant box, the shoe parts, and the corks?
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2012, 08:09:10 AM »

Thanks for the reply Marty,
The evidence I have of confusion is that both Macpherson and Vaskess thought a sextant was found when there was not. I believe the confusion was caused by Gallagher describing two aspects of a sextant. A sextant he did not see since no sextant was found. Only part of an inverting eye piece was found, and he may not have even seen that since it was discarded before shipping the finds out.

Here are the two aspects of the sextant Gallagher describes, again one he did not see.
1.    That “sextant being old fashioned”
2.   That the sextant was “probably painted over with black enamel”

He says "sextant being old fashioned". He does not say he thinks or it probably was old fashioned, he says "Sextant being old fashioned". Maybe he thought the box was old fashioned because it had dove tailed joints? Those were described later by 58.  McDonald Aug 11, 1941 and something Gallagher could actually see to describe.

 Here is the evidence (From bones file, same link you gave):

Telegram 349 Oct 1, 1940 -“Near the skeleton was a box containing an old fashioned sextant”
Comment form Tighar : “ It erroneously reports that a sextant was found.”

 McPherson to Vaskess: “The instrument itself moreover, if a good one, should have engraved on it”
Comment: from Tighar:  “He also thinks that there is a sextant”

Vaskess to Gallagher: “ bones and other finds, including box, sextant and shoe, should be forwarded to Suva”
 Comment form Tighar: “Vaskess still thinks there is a sextant”

Gallagher clarifies “Confidential. Your telegram No. 2, no sextant was found. Only part discovered was thrown away by finder but was probably part of an inverting eyepiece

Marty, The stenciled information is clear but you may want to add dovetailed joints to the description of the box.
 Also, You may want to move my comments since I do not want to cause confusion on what to look for, I just don't know where to move it.
Thanks,

Gallagher referring to a sextant as "old fashioned" is certainly odd and I wonder, as we all do, exactly what about it caused him to describe it that way. As much as I know, sextants still played a vital role in navigation in 1940. Had their design evolved so much that one would readily discern between an old one and a "modern one"?  Also, regarding "Only part discovered was thrown away by finder but was probably part of an inverting eyepiece" or that it was “probably painted over with black enamel”.  Clearly by filling in the blanks with descriptions and suggestions of the most likely parts to have been discarded (specifically a part that is usually detached is stored separately from the body of the sextant) Gallagher is more than familiar with sextants and their associated accoutrements.  I suggest that the “old fashioned” descriptor was not Gallagher’s and that he was merely conveying what the finder told him and had characterized about what was found,  and that the only parts that are in Gallagher's own words are the suggestion about the inverting eye piece and the black enamel description.

About the discarded piece - it clearly had little or no value to the finder to have been summarily discarded. This would suggest to me that it was a part that was either considerably less vital to the function of the instrument (and other obvious uses as well), or even identifiable to the instrument itself. Would one really discard part of an inverting eye piece, perhaps one of the more technologically oriented elements of the instrument? Most people like to collect (accumulate that is) such interesting trinket. The only scenario I could imagine would be if it were so severely corroded or damaged as to be unrecognizable for its worth (intrinsic or otherwise) or possible secondary use.  You’re on a remote island in the south Pacific and come across a piece of manmade technology, and you toss it aside? 

Just some thoughts, sorry if this has been covered before.
 
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Rafael Krasnodebski

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Re: Where are the sextant box, the shoe parts, and the corks?
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2012, 02:32:48 PM »

Here's a black enamelled one from 1923, though the box has finger joints. The eyepieces give an indication of what may have been discarded.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1923-C-Plath-Hamburg-Stubbenhuk-25-Sextant-Marine-Navigation-/251117288717?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a77c1bd0d#ht_15962wt_1392
Raf
 
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Monte Chalmers

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Re: Where are the sextant box, the shoe parts, and the corks?
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2012, 09:41:39 PM »

Yes.  We don't know what it was about the box that suggested "old fashioned" and
"painted with black enamel." 

There is a pretty good picture here of an example of the sextant box and what I mean about resting supports for the sextant.  If someone were looking in this box and saw black paint residue on the support pads, he would conclude that the sextant had been painted.

http://tighar.org/Projects/Earhart/Archives/Research/Bulletins/12_Sextantbox/moffettsext.jpg
Monte TIGHAR #3597
 
« Last Edit: August 02, 2012, 09:50:52 PM by Monte Chalmers »
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Tim Collins

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Re: Where are the sextant box, the shoe parts, and the corks?
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2012, 07:16:20 AM »

"Sextant box has two numbers on it 3500 ( stencilled ) and 1542– sextant being old fashioned and probably painted over with black enamel."  -

I 'm skeptical that Galagher's description of the sextant is based on any evidence he actually observed in the box. In my opinion his "description" is more of a definition of what a sextant would/could appear to be to someone not familiar with one, and is really incidental to the box itself. 
« Last Edit: August 03, 2012, 08:08:33 AM by Tim Collins »
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Chris Johnson

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Re: Where are the sextant box, the shoe parts, and the corks?
« Reply #13 on: August 03, 2012, 07:25:09 AM »

Could Gallagher be describing it based upon the ones that he had come accross?
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Tim Collins

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Re: Where are the sextant box, the shoe parts, and the corks?
« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2012, 08:07:46 AM »

Could Gallagher be describing it based upon the ones that he had come accross?

That's what I'm thinking.
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