Octants from the Friesian Island of Fohr for Dutch and German Whale Men, 1760-90
During the second half of the 18th Century, a considerable number of octants (Hadley’s quadrant) were produced on Fohr. The whaling and farming community on Fohr is described, together with the spread of the use of octants across European seafaring communities from the 1730’s onwards. A number of octants produced on the island have been preserved and have enabled a closer analysis of their makers, the quality of the instruments themselves and the markets for which they were made. The most prolific of these was Jan Cornelisz, whose quadrants were popular with the local Dutch and German whaling community, despite their inferiority relative to those produced in Amsterdam and London at the time.