Rare First Edition of Harrison's Protest Regarding His H4 Timekeeper and the Longitude Award
Narrative of the Proceedings Relative to the Discovery of the Longitude at Sea. by Mr. John Harrison’s Time-Keeper; Subsequent to Those Published in the Year 1763.
London: Printed for the author, and sold by Mr. Sandby, 1765.
Harrison, John. A Narrative of the Proceedings Relative to the Discovery of the Longitude at Sea; by Mr. John Harrison’s Time-Keeper; Subsequent to Those Published in the Year 1763. London. Printed for the author, and sold by Mr. Sandby, 1765.
First edition. Small octavo (6 7/8 x 4 9/16 inches; 175 x 115 mm). , 18 pp. Bound without half-title and final blank. Engraved initial and headpiece on page . We could only find four copies of this at auction in the past 40 years, present copy included. Of these four copies, only one was complete with both the half-title and final blank.
Pamphlet bound in half brown morocco over brown library cloth. Spine lettered in gilt. Drab dark blue endpapers. Title-page lightly soiled, otherwise internally very clean. Small stamp of The Birmingham Assay Office Library on newer front free endpaper leaf and on verso of title-page. Overall a very good copy. Housed in a custom full morocco clamshell.
"The second sea trial of Harrison's fourth time-keeper, H4, was made aboard the Tartar on a voyage from Portsmouth to Barbados in 1764. Harrison's son accompanied the voyage and made further refinements to the watch and when it arrived at Barbados the error of the watch was found to be only 43 seconds. Upon returning to England, the Board of Longitude refused to grant the longitude award to Harrison in full, causing him to publish defenses of his watch and its precision. The present work copies letters of the Admiralty sent to Harrison in the preceding years establishing his development of the watch, and concludes with his own memorial. In it he outlines his claim, concluding in part that 'whereas a method (invented by your Memorialist) for the Discovery of the Longitude hath been tried by Experiments made according to the Appointment of your Honourable Board... Your Memorialist therefore humbly prays; that your Honourable Board will be pleased to grant him such Certificate as directed by the above recited Act.' The Board held firm for more than nine years, however. It was not until the intervention of Parliament in 1774 that Harrison received the balance of his reward of £20,000 to which, under the Act of 1714, he was entitled...The National Maritime Museum did not have a copy of the pamphlet until 2003, when it acquired the papers of the 2nd Viscount Barrington, a member of the 18th-century Board of Longitude. The self-published pamphlet was presumably printed in an extremely limited edition for private circulation to members of the board." (Frank S. Streeter Library: Navigation, Pacific Voyages, Cartography, etc.--4/16/2007)
"Harrison's chronometer not only supplied navigators with a perfect instrument for observing the true geographical position at any moment during their voyage, but also laid the foundation for the compilation of exact charts of the deep seas and the coastal waters of the world...There has possibly been no advance of comparable importance in aids to navigation until the introduction of radar" (PMM, regarding "An Account of the Proceedings in Order to the Discovery of the Longitude", London 1763).
According the book Longitude; The True Story of a Lone Genius. Sobel, 1995, pp. 107-08 in regards to Harrisons H4 timekeeper "lying in state now in an exhibit case in London's National Maritime Museum H-4 draws millions of visitors a year...often hailed as the most important time keeper ever built ."