The Marine Chronometer

The Marine Chronometer

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First published in 1923, this long-awaited edition of the definitive reference work on the marine chronometer contains additional photographs and many of Rupert Gould's later revisions and corrections. It deals comprehensively with the chronometers history and the earliest attempts to measure longitude while including exhaustive discussions and diagrams of the various mechanisms employed with details of their inventors. It is an extraordinary fact that the first machines capable of accurately determining a ship's longitude, a measurement the great Sir Isaac Newton considered to be a mechanical impossibility, were invented and built by an obscure Yorkshire carpenter named John Harrison (1693 1776). Amazingly, the latter was entirely self-educated and had never served a days apprenticeship to any clockmaker. The Marine Chronometer relates the remarkable story of John Harrison's marine timekeepers which eventually won him a ,000 reward offered by the British Government for any method of determin
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Product details

  • Hardback | 496 pages
  • 208 x 266 x 44mm | 2,206g
  • Woodbridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • 15 Colour, 160 B&W
  • 1851493654
  • 9781851493654
  • 129,343

Review quote

Ten years short of the original publication's centenary, one of the greatest books on a horological sub-genre has attained Second Edition status. First published in 1923, Gould's masterpiece covers the topic of marine chronometers from its natural starting point: the need for the discovery of longitude. But even before you reach this stage in the book, the illuminating introduction by Jonathan Betts MBE warns you that the journey through its 400-plus pages will prove rewarding and frustrating in equal measure. How so? Because, this long-awaited second edition includes Gould's own amendments and additions from his original annotated manuscripts. Here's where the bibliophile in me starts salivating, for this is two books in one: the original, plus the 'outtakes.' What it does not do is rewrite Gould's work in light of all that has been discovered since 1923, the editor preferring instead to provide ample annotation. It is an ideal way of updating a work that has earned the honour of being a subject's definitive study, because the reader can savour the original as it appeared, while benefitting from superlative editing and sympathetic, respectful treatment. This is, though highly readable, an intensely technical work, certainly suitable for researchers or scholars. But do not be deterred: this book is an absolute joy. And be glad we didn't have to wait until its centenary for this 're-boot.' -- Ken Kessler QP Magazine, April 15, 2013 No book is a more complete history of the marine chronometer, even after nearly a century, and many, Jonathan Betts and Rudyard Kipling among them, consider this the finest horological work of the twentieth century. -- David Rachlin, reference librarian, James E. Shepard Memorial Library, North Carolina Central University Reference Reviews, Volume 28, Number 1, 2014 Edition
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About Rupert T. Gould

Rupert Thomas Gould (1890-1948) was not a professional horologist, yet he researched and wrote 'The Marine Chronometer' in just four years, between the ages of 29 and 33. A true English eccentric and a veritable polymath, Gould made important contributions in an extraordinary range of subject areas, from early typewriters to the Loch Ness Monster, from antiquarian horology to the history and rules of the game of tennis. He was an early broadcaster on radio, giving weekly talks on the BBC's 'Children's Hour' throughout the 1930s; as a member of the 1940s discussion programme 'The Brains Trust' he amazed a national audience with his wide learning and photographic memory. Yet, his greatest achievements were horological: his restoration of the great Harrison timekeepers and his authorship of so many fine texts on the history of horology are his true legacy.
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Rating details

7 ratings
4.57 out of 5 stars
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4 43% (3)
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Our customer reviews

The Most Important Book on the History of the Marine Chronometer The Marine Chronometer, Its History and Development, incorporating Gould’s own amendments and additions rom his original annotated manuscripts, by Rupert T. Gould, with new illustrations and a foreword to this edition by Jonathan Betts. [The ‘2nd’ Edition]. Published in 2013, by Antique Collectors’ Club. ISBN 978-1-85149-365-4. Hardcover (cloth, dust jacket), 496 pages, 26 x 20 cm, ca. xx illustrations, many in color. Available at for ca. US$ 120 plus shipping. NAWCC members may borrow a lending copy from the Library in Columbia Pa. Finally, the long delayed and much anticipated 2nd edition of a great horological book is available. The wait may rank among the longest ever for a ‘2md edition’. Horologists with a serious interest in marine chronometers and their history all agree that the best available book on the subject is the text by Gould, first published in 1923. The last copy of the original 1st edition was sold in January 1942. Within weeks of the first publication, in anticipation of that day, Gould had started annotating his two personal copies of the book (actually custom bound books of galley sheets with extra wide margins) with detailed (and dated) marginal notes, and he worked on that task on-and-off, as his workload and health permitted, for 23 years till his death in 1946. But only now, 90 years after publication of the 1st edition, and 70 years after the 1st printing sold out, we can finally get the ‘2nd revised and enlarged’ edition. Obviously there are other books on the history of the marine chronometer: My choice for second ranked book would be von Bertele: Marine and Pocket Chronometers, History and Development (1981ff in German, 1991ff in English), followed by Whitney: Ships Chronometer (1981ff) and Parvulesco: L’heure en Mer, une histoire de chronometer (2010, in French), although the latter two are somewhat biased toward their ‘home country’ (but then so was Gould who, while recognizing the contributions of makers like Pierre LeRoy, Breguet or Guillaume, is somewhat dismissive of the overall contribution of France). But these are ‘2nd choice’ texts ranking after the Gould book, whose price after 1942 started increasing in the used book market. In 1960, after an 18 year wait, in Holland Press at least published an unchanged reprinting of the first editions (with subsequent, additional re-printings of the 1st edition in 1971, 1973, 1976 and 1978). In the early 1980s the British publisher ‘Antique Collectors’ Club’ bought the rights to the first edition from Gould’s heirs, but in spite of intense efforts at the time could not find a chronometer expert to create the 2nd edition, so eventually they too republished (in 1989) the first edition (with some altered illustrations and textual errors thrown in for good measure). By the turn of the millennium even the newer ‘reprints’ were so scarce and sought after that they retailed for hundreds of dollars. The global community of chronometer scholars and aficionados agreed that any second edition would need to incorporate the corrections that Gould himself had suggested between 1923 and 1942. But that was easier said than done: First there were complex intellectual property issues to solve between the two owners who had acquired the two physical books with Gould’s annotations, and the heirs of Gould (who owned the copyright to the text of the first edition). The fact that the two annotated copies differ significantly, and at times seem to contradict each other, also posed problems of Salomonic proportions, which only someone with an intimate knowledge of chronometer history, and a good sense of Gould’s mindset could hope to tackle. It has been quite clear for some time who would be best qualified for that difficult job: Jonathan Betts, the biographer of Gould (Time Restored – The Harrison Timekeepers and R.T. Gould; 2006, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-856802-9) and as the Senior Curator of Horology at Royal Museums Greenwich, the custodian of many of the world’s most important historic chronometers. But for many years Jonathan was busy with his many other roles, in addition to writing the Gould biography. But in the end it happened: The collaboration of Betts, and the publishers, and the copyright holder has produced what this reviewer considers the most important horology book of the year. Its layout is highly unconventional: The bulk of the book consists of a re-typeset facsimile of the first edition as originally published in 1923 (including errors, idiosyncratic page numbering, original footnotes, original illustrations, original index, etc.), on slightly larger pages allowing to print –in a different font- the marginal notes from both of Gould’s two personal copies of the first edition (incl. occasional sketches). Where Gould suggested deletions these are marked in ‘Overstrike’ format. Footnote type numerals refer the reader to Gould’s comments, corrections, additions and deletions. Particularly the marginal ‘Comments’, even if they did not lead Gould to recommend changes in the text make for very interesting reading. There are virtually no pages without marginalia, the majority of pages have 4 to 8 of them (in addition to the original printed footnotes of the 1st edition, of which there are several on most pages). In some instances where the Gould copies included longer inserted notes on separate sheets the resulting texts and sketches are reproduced as additional inserted pages in the 2nd edition. The resulting reading experience for this reviewer was vastly unlike casually reading a book. It felt more like attending a graduate seminar involving textual analysis. Of course one could read the new edition of Gould ignoring the hundreds of foot- and margin-notes, but one would miss a unique experience. By also reading all the notes in addition to the main narrative this reviewer felt nearly like he were engaging in a one-on-one interactive discussion with Gould. By reading every footnote and margin annotation one can now appreciate the nuances and complexities of Gould’s thinking. Reading the new book in this manner is a slow, intellectually challenging process, but a most rewarding and satisfying experience. Additional new material of the 2nd edition (all in the front of the book) now includes: 1. A one page “Publisher’s Note”, 2. a two image frontispiece, 3. an eight page “Foreword” by Betts (including 7 plates), 4. a 36 page, 54 plates “Picture Gallery of Chronometers”, supplementing the 39 plates and 84 figures (pen and ink drawings by Gould, originals now owned by the Museum in Greenwich) from the first edition, which were left at the location they were originally published. This additional information alone justifies the purchase of the 2nd edition The “1st edition” already was a most thorough and comprehensive text dealing with the subject of “The Marine Chronometer, Its History and Development”, but the new 2013 edition offers so much more that that any horologists who appreciates marine chronometers should buy it irrespective if an earlier copy already sits on the bookshelf. This reviewer appreciates the huge effort that went into creating the new book by the Antiques’ Collectors Club (Publisher), Susannah Hecht (Editor), Jonathan Betts (who provided the horological expertise). You have done justice to the legacy of Gould. Thank you . Fortunat F. Mueller-Maerki, Sussex NJ, August 12, 2013show more
by Fortunat Mueller-Maerki
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