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    Re: On lunars generally
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2009 Jul 7, 20:12 -0700

    I wrote previously:
    "Lunars were no longer used much after 1850, and that's because chronometers 
    had become cheap and reliable. It was easier to buy two chronometers than to 
    pay for the high-quality sextant required for lunar observations."
    And Geoffrey, you replied:
    "So... do you mean that a marine chronometer was half the price of a
    good sextant in 1850? Gosh!
    What was the price of marine chronometers and good sextants in the US in 1850?"
    I think by my logic above I was suggesting that one EXTRA chronometer was more 
    economical than one (good) sextant --not half the price. :-)
    But I've done only the most trivial research on the economics of navigation 
    equipment so I won't defend this specific claim. From my notes from five 
    years ago, in Britain in 1840, a new chronometer was selling for about 40 
    pounds, down from something like 200 pounds at the end of the 18th century, 
    while a new (high-quality) sextant would sell for about 20 pounds, about the 
    same price as fifty years earlier. These prices in 1840 are close enough that 
    economics would play a major role. The ratio of chronometer price to sextant 
    price has fallen from 10-to-1 to 2-to-1. And I couldn't guess about actual 
    sale prices for "second-hand" instruments. What would be the price for a 
    five-year-old high-quality sextant? And the price for a five-year-old 
    I have no information at hand on US prices in the same period.
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