Artist Clark Elliott (1729–1793)

Object Place: New London, Connecticut


Overall: 59.1 x 35.6 x 12.7 cm (23 1/4 x 14 x 5 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Rosewood, boxwood, walnut, ivory

On View

George Putnam Model Ship Gallery (Gallery LG28)





Inscribed: “Made by C. Elliott in New London/ For Mr. [—-?] 1765” and “CE/ 346/ 1765”. Rosewood, boxwood, walnut, ivory. Backstaff with rosewood limbs and braces decorated with incised lines, punched stars, and applied bosses, with inlaid ivory plate with maker’s name, date, and owner’s name (effaced) on long limb; small 60 degree arc and large 30 degree arc of boxwood and engraved with graduated scales; maker’s initials, date, and serial number engraved on scrolled end of 30 degree arc, with punched stars; walnut horizon vane attached to long limb; other vanes missing.

The backstaff or Davis quadrant, used to observe the altitude of the sun at sea, was an important navigational instrument, often made of tropical hardwoods. The ivory nameplate indicates that Elliott, a well-known maker of navigational instruments, made this backstaff. The original owner’s name has been effaced, a customary practice as instruments often changed ownership.

Credit Line

Gift of The Seminarians