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    Re: Lunar trouble, need help
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2008 Jul 8, 19:57 +0100

    Responding to my question about watches used at sea at the start of the 18th 
    century, Ken Muldrew quoted from _The_Industrious_Revolution_ by Jan de 
    Vries (CUP 2008)
    
     "European watch production rose from the tens of thousands per year at the 
    time of the pocket globe�s introduction [1697] to nearly 400,000 per year in 
    the last quarter of the eighteenth century. ... Parisian inventories reveal 
    that as early as 1700, 13 percent of servants and 5 percent of wage earners 
    owned a watch."
    
    and I had asked for details about that "pocket globe" and for any quoted 
    references.
    
    Ken has usefully replied, about the pocket globe-
    
    "It seems like a miniature astrolabe, perhaps with the stars rotating 
    through a watch mechanism (though he doesn't say whether there was any 
    spring-driven mechanism in it). He only references a Dutch advertisement 
    from 1697 for the pocket globe. It seems it's meant as an example of what 
    Adam Smith called "trinkets of frivolous utility"--an early modern example 
    of conspicuous consumption."
    
    It seems likely, then, that such a "trinket" didn't really count as what we 
    would call a watch at all; certainly not, if it had no spring-driven 
    mechanism. Could it have been, perhaps, some sort of pocket sundial (which 
    abounded then) or even a small armillary sphere? Not much evidence to go on 
    here, yet, but on the face of it, unlikely to have been useful to a ship's 
    officer.
    
    Ken quotes references to-
    
    "David Landes. Revolution in Time. Clocks and the making of the modern 
    world. Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University Press, 1983. p. 231; p. 442.".
    
    I have his revised edition of 2000, and there's nothing at all relevant on 
    either of those two pages there, so it's probably been repaged. However, I 
    don't recall seeing that information elsewhere, in my edition, though I 
    could well have missed it. If anyone has that 1983 edition of Landes, I 
    would appreciate it if he could identify such a quote, from those two pages, 
    and offer a bit of guidance, such as chapter number, and how far in. The 
    mention on page 442 is probably to an endnote, and it would be useful to 
    know the chapter and page that is referred to there.
    
    However,  I've failed, so far, to find any backing in Landes for any of the 
    de Vries claims that have been quoted. Was de Vries any sort of accepted 
    authority on timekeepers, as Landes certainly is?
    
    Pocket watches certainly existed before 1700, from the Nuremberg "egg" in 
    around 1530 to the French "onion" in the 1670s (and no doubt other 
    delicacies in between) but until the balance-spring was adopted, they were 
    all verge-and-foliot construction. Nothing too wrong about the verge 
    escapement, but the foliot was no more than a little "dumbell" that was 
    batted to and fro by the escapement. Without any "tuning", the harder it was 
    pushed by the mainspring, the faster it went. Timekeeping was so rotten that 
    they tended to have just an hour hand.
    
    Would such a crude device have served any purpose as a deck-watch, to a 
    navigator? Perhaps it might have been marginally better than a sand-glass. 
    But I'm aware of no references, in logs or journals, from 1700, to the use 
    of such a watch. However, that doesn't mean there were none, and if there 
    were any, I would be interested to learn further details.
    
    Of course, it wouldn't be until the 1760s that the first watches, good 
    enough to determine longitude, would appear, but we are not discussing that 
    sort of timekeeping here.
    
    George.
    
    contact George Huxtable at george@huxtable.u-net.com
    or at +44 1865 820222 (from UK, 01865 820222)
    or at 1 Sandy Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.
    
    George.
    
    contact George Huxtable at george@huxtable.u-net.com
    or at +44 1865 820222 (from UK, 01865 820222)
    or at 1 Sandy Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK. 
    
    
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