HARRISON, John (1693-1776) [and Nevil MASKELYNE (1732-1811)]. The principles of Mr. Harrison's time-keeper, with plates of the same. Published by order of the Commissioners of Longitude. London: W. Richardson and S. Clarke for John Nourse and Mess. Mount and Page, 1767.
4o (243 x 189 mm). Half-title, 10 folding engraved plates. (Occasional light foxing). Contemporary French mottled calf (joints split, covers nearly detached, corners abraded, spine obscured by shelfmark labels).
FIRST EDITION of the "description of the famous solution to the centuries-old world-wide problem of finding the longitude" (Grolier/Horblit). In 1714 the Board of Longitude offered a reward of 20,000, an impressive sum of money at the time, to anyone who could find a reliable and accurate method for determining longitude at sea. In 1730 the clockmaker John Harrison completed a manuscript describing some of his chronometrical inventions, including a chronometer "accurate enough to measure time at a steady rate over long periods, thus permitting the measurement of longitude by comparison of local solar time with an established standard time" (Norman). On the strength of his descriptions, Harrison obtained a loan from George Graham, a leading maker of clocks and watches, for the construction of his timekeeper. After numerous attempts, involving instruments in several different shapes and sizes, most of which either Harrison himself or his son William tested on ocean voyages, Harrison succeeded in contructing a chronometer that was both accurate and convenient in size, which was successfully tested on two voyages to the West Indies in 1761 and 1764. After the successful trial of his first device in 1737, the Board of Longitude had encouraged him with a grant of 500, and had begrudgingly followed this up with more small payments over the years. Following the two successful trials of his fourth and best instrument, Harrison felt that he had a right to the prize, but the Board of Longitude hedged, insisting on a demonstration and full written description of his invention. The demonstration took place on 22 August 1765, in the presence of the astronomer-royal Nevil Maskelyne and a six-member committee of experts appointed by the Board. The results were written up and published in this pamphlet by Maskelyne, along with Harrison's own description of his timekeeper. Still unsatisfied, the Board awarded Harrison only half the prize money, and continued to raise obstacles, subjecting his chronometer to extreme and unrealistic tests, and requiring him to build yet two more examples. It was not until 1773, after direct intervention by King George III, that the 80-year old inventor was paid the remainder of the prize money, His four earliest chronometers are preserved at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. Although it was soon supplanted by simpler mechanisms, Harrison's timekeeper "revolutionized the science of navigation, as it gave navigators their first means of observing true geographical position at any given moment during a voyage. There was no comparable advance in navigational aids until the development of radar in the twentieth century" (Norman). Grolier/Horblit 42b; Norman 995.
MASKELYNE. An account of the going of Mr. Harrison's watch, at the Royal Observatory, from May 6th, 1766, to March 4th, 1767...published by order of the Commissioners of Longitude. London: W. Richardson and S. Clark for John Nourse and Mount and Page, 1767. 4o. Typographic tables. Inserted 19th-century engraved and aquatint portrait of Maskelyne, by E. Scriven after Vanderburgh.
FIRST EDITION. One of several pamphlets printed during Harrison's travails with the Board of Longitude, containing Maskelyne's report of the performance of Harrison's timekeeper in a series of excessively rigorous tests that Harrison considered "frivolous" (DNB). Maskelyne concluded that Harrison's watch "cannot be depended upon", but that it was nonetheless "a useful and valuable invention" (p. 24). Norman 997.
HARRISON [and MASKELYNE]. Principes de la montre de Mr. Harrison.... Translated and edited by Esprit Pexenas (1692-1776). Avignon: Veuve Girard, F. Seguin, J. Aubert; Paris: Jombert, Desaint, and Saillant, 1767. 4o. Text in English and French, 7 engraved folding plates; woodcut title ornaments.
Pezenas's anonymous translation of Harrison's Principles of the same year, followed by Pezenas's description and critical assessment of the Board of Longitude's handling of Harrison's chronometer. Pezenas, a Jesuit priest, was professor of hydrography at the cole Royale d'Hydrographie in Marseilles and later director of the Observatoire de Ste.-Croix in the same city. He published several works of his own and "played a major role in the diffusion in France of important works by English scientists" (DSB). Norman 996.
HARRISON. Extrait de la rponse de Mr. Jean Harrison aux remarques et objections de Monsieur Maskelyne, servant de suite aux Principes de la Montre de M. Harrison. Translated and edited by Esprit Pezenas. Avignon: Veuve Girard, F. Seguin, J. Aubert; Paris: Jombert, Desaint, and Saillant, 1767. 4o. (Short internal tear to title not affecting text.)
A French translation and paraphrase by Pezenas of Harrison's Remarks on a pamphlet lately published by the Rev. Mr. Maskelyne, his response to Maskelyne's Account (see above), interspersed with remarks by the editor. In his reply Harrison disputes Maskelyne's report point by point and demonstrates the unreliability of Maskelyne's favored method of finding the longitude by means of lunar tables. Norman 998.
[LE ROY, Pierre (1717-1758)]. COURTANVAUX, Franois Csar Le Tellier, Marquis de (1718-1781). Prcis du voyage... pour la vrification de quelques instrumens destins la dtermination des longitudes sur mer. Lu l'Assemble publique de l'Acadmie Royale des Sciences, le 14 Novembre de l'anne 1767. Paris: Imprimerie Royale, 1768. 4o. Woodcut royal arms on title, woodcut headpiece.
Horloger du roi from 1754, Pierre Le Roy invented a completely original marine chronometer in the 1750s, which he perfected over the next decade and presented to Louis XV in 1766. In 1767 he entered his machine, which "embodied all the principles upon which later marine chronometers were constructed" (Norman), in a competition sponsored by the Acadmie des Sciences. The present pamphlet contains a report of the first trial to which it was subjected, in a voyage between Le Havre and Amsterdam aboard the yacht of the Marquis de Courtanvaux. Le Roy was awarded a double prize in 1768, for his chronometer and for his memoir describing it. Norman 1335.
LE ROY, Pierre. Expos succint des travaux de MM. Harrison et Le Roy, dans la recherche des longitudes en mer. Paris: Nyon, Jombert, Prault, 1768. 4o, half-title. Provenance: contemporary marginal notes and corrections by a critical and technically informed reader.
Le Roy felt that he, and not Harrison, deserved credit for the invention of the first accurate marine chronometer. In this pamphlet he printed the full text of his 1754 memoir and compared his work favorably to Harrison's timekeeper. Although he failed to establish priority over Harrison, Le Roy is generally credited with having developed a less derivative instrument, the first to operate on the same principles as the modern marine chronometer. Norman 1334.
[FLEURIEU, Charles Pierre Claret d'veux de, Comte (1738-1810). Examen critique d'un mmoire publi par M. le Roy... sur l'preuve des horloges propres dterminer les longitudes en mer. "London and" Paris: Vente, 1778. 4o. Half-title, woodcut ornaments, errata note at end. (Occasional discoloration.) Provenance: note on G3r by the annotator of the previous pamphlet. A refutation of Le Roy's claims by the proteg of a rival inventor, the Swiss watchmaker Berthoud. Norman 801.
A remarkable Sammelband of pamphlets relating to the first accurate marine chronometer, collected by and bound for an 18th-century French owner. (7)