At the pinnacle of Britain's seafaring days the marine chronometer came to be an essential part of a ship's arsenal. Celestial navigation was used to find one's position at sea and yet this had proved difficult until the problem of longitude was solved by Yorkshire carpenter John Harrison in the mid 1800's, whose method won him £20,000 from the British Government (which would be worth around 4 million today). For Harrison’s method to be used precisely, it was necessary to have an accurate timekeeper on board the ship. Pictured below are two examples of these timepieces; so important they became that we can almost attribute the ascendancy of the British Empire and the success of the Royal Navy to the feats of navigation enabled by these very items:
From left: A mid 19th century two-day marine chronometer by Thomas Roberts (34 Strand St. Liverpool) and an early 19th century marine chronometer by Brockbank & Atkins, London, No. 1167.
Up for sale on 13th September 2018, from 11am as part of our Autumn Fine Art Auction.