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    Re: On lunars generally
    From: Geoffrey Kolbe
    Date: 2009 Jul 08, 06:51 +0100

    Frank wrote (NavList 9014)
    
    >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 chronometer?
    >
    >I have no information at hand on US prices in the same period.
    
    Yes, a ratio of two to one on chronometer to good 
    sextant price is my reckoning, too - and that 
    ratio persists today. You can pick up a 
    reasonable 20th century mechanical chronometer 
    (even some new ones still from Russia) for around 
    �2000 and a good sextant is about half that.
    
    The fact that London was the centre of the 
    world's chronometer industry in 1850 may have 
    influenced the price in the United States - vs - 
    England. The United States had a large merchant 
    fleet, but a very small chronometer industry. 
    Those chronometers that were built in the US 
    would probably have been mostly built using parts 
    shipped over from England rather than made from scratch.
    
    On the matter of second hand instruments. I think 
    that in general, chronometers would have belonged 
    to the company that owned the ship, whereas the 
    sextant would have been the personal property of 
    the ship's officers - a tradition that persisted 
    right up to the present day. Chronometers tended 
    to stay with the ship. Chronometers were not like 
    cars today, where after five years the thing is 
    out of fashion, clapped out, and you trade it in 
    for a new one. There were chronometers in the 
    British navy that stayed in use for over a 
    hundred years! I suspect that chronometers would 
    have been rare on the second hand market - as 
    they are today. Look at the number of marine 
    chronometers for sale on ebay compared to the 
    number of sextants. I think a five year old 
    chronometer for sale in Boston, say, in 1850, 
    would have been much the same price as a brand new one.
    
    And Frank said "I think by my logic above I was 
    suggesting that one EXTRA chronometer was more 
    economical than one (good) sextant --not half the price. :-)"
    
    I figured that there was some subtle logic like 
    that behind your statement Frank - but I am a 
    bear of little brain and it is too subtle for me, 
    I am afraid. ;-) I think the idea of using one 
    chronometer, checked periodically using lunars, 
    would be much more economical that an extra 
    chronometer. If the two chronometers disagreed, 
    you are back to using lunars to check which is in 
    error. To get away from a heavy dependence on 
    lunars as a check on the chronometer(s) you need three chronometers at least.
    
    Geoffrey
    
    
    
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