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A Letter from Mr. Christian MayerÖ On the Going of a New Pendulum Clock
London,: T. Becket, 1781.. Quarto, 19 pp., final page advertisement for a work by John Arnold, a few spots; very good in neat modern paper boards with morocco spine label. Very rare: one of very few publications to directly discuss the chronometers of John Arnold, and clearly published with his consent - and almost certainly with his involvement - this work was issued in very small numbers to puff the technical prowess of Arnold at a time when he was working on the revolution in chronometers that would culminate in "Arnold 36" of 1782, the first timepiece to actually be called a chronometer, and the forerunner of the viability of quantity production: by the mid-1780s 'Captains of the East India Company and the Royal Navy flocked to the chronometer factories' (Sobel, Longitude).Arnold (1736-1799) was the English watchmaker most responsible for making practical advances in the manufacture of chronometers. He had benefitted from the magnum opus of longitude, John Harrison's Principles of 1767, the publication of which was forced by Astronomer Royal Nevil Maskelyne, who first gave copies of the detailed plates to Larcum Kendall for the manufacture of K1, the chronometer taken on board Resolution for Cook's second voyage. Soon after, Maskelyne also gave a copy of Harrison's book to Arnold, who ultimately produced three chronometers which were also taken on board the Resolution. Kendall's was by far the superior timepiece, although Arnold's chances were not helped by the fact that one was allowed to go unwound (the fiery debate about whether this was the fault of William Wales helped fuel his acrimonious split with the Forsters).Arnold had a better business mind than Kendall, and was more aware of the practicalities of watch-design meaning that his "Arnold 36" of 1777 is considered the first modern chronometer. Arnold was also not only personally charming, but as this rare pamphlet neatly proves, a wonder at self-promotion. This work translates a laudatory essay by the German astronomer Christian Mayer, praising Arnold's work on a new pendulum clock at Manheim. The fact that this is in effect an extended advertisement is safely proven by the long translator's preface, which concludes triumphantly: 'While Mr. Arnold's improvements in clock-work may thus become serviceable to astronomers; that superior degree of perfection to which he had brought his Pocket Chronometers must be of the highest utility in geography and navigation... ships may now proceed on their voyages with a degree of certainty and expedition unhoped for and unknown to preceding navigators...'.
      [Bookseller: Hordern House Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2013-07-20           Check availability:      Biblio    

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