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    Re: mechanical chronometers
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2006 May 16, 17:27 -0500

    Alex quoted, NavList 225

    | Reference: S.E. Morison, The European discovery of America. The
    Northern
    | voyages, AD 500-1600.
    | Oxford UP, 1971, page 141:
    |
    | "In discussing navigational methods, one is apt to ignore
    | the gap between the invention of the device and persuading owners
    | to supply it or sailors to use it.
    | For instance, the chronometer... was invented in 1750;
    | but the royal French navy in 1833, with 250 ships, had only 44
    | chronometers".

    That differs, rather, from another source, translated from its
    original French: Jean Randier "Matine Navigation Instruments (1980)
    who states on page 183-

    "In 1832 the French Naval Ordnance listed 143 chronometers, by
    Berthoud, Breguet and Motel exclusively. The merchant navy still
    possessed none, and would not until about 1880".

    Randier provides no reference for that information. It would be
    interesting to learn more. French makers, and especially the names
    that are quoted, were particularly active and imaginative in the
    development of chronometers, though English makers such as Arnold went
    in more for mass-production.

    The statement about the merchant navy is more surprising, but of
    course it depends on what exactly the translated phrase "merchant
    navy" implies. The Compagnie des Indes no longer existed, at that
    date. I would expect that the vast majority of French merchant vessels
    of that period were commercial ventures, as individual vessels or as
    fleets, and would not be drawing their chronometers from any sort of
    central store, as the French Navy would. Instead, individual owners,
    or masters, would probably be expected to provide their own. But
    there's some guessing about that, judging matters by the situation on
    the other side of the Channel. It would be interesting to discover
    more, perhaps from one of our members from a French background.

    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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