Although antiques are often functional, few were originally designed as professional-quality tools. Since 1972, London-based Trevor Philip & Sons has dealt in antique instruments from across the sciences, including astronomy, navigation, seafaring, surveying, microscopy, time-telling, and even medicine. Indeed, their value as highly reliable tools is a significant part of their value as antiques. “All those fields require precision. That’s why the instruments must be precise. They have to be,” says Saf Waterman, who codirects the firm with his father, Trevor P. Waterman.
While the stock has included items made as early as the 15th century and as late as the 20th century, tools created during the 17th through the 19th centuries are most prized. These were the ages of the gentleman scientist—educated men wealthy enough to spend their time trying to unravel the secrets of the natural world. They preferred tools that were not only extremely accurate but also aesthetically pleasing, and crafted from mahogany, brass, ivory, ebony, silver, and other fine materials. As with more decorative antiques, these scientific instruments are sometimes enhanced by a romantic provenance. In 1997, for example, Trevor Philip & Sons sold a sextant that Captain Cook used during his journeys.
Trevor Philip & Sons, +44.20.7930.2954, www.trevorphilip.com