Friday 2 May 2014

Beagle Chronometer

You won't believe the provenance behind this piece of naval kit. Marine Chronometer W.E.Frodsham 2 (1825) was created in response to the Longitude Act of 1714, which offered a £20,000 reward for a reliable and economical means of recording longitude. Thanks to this invention, Britannia did indeed rule the waves until the early 20th century. The Admiralty had 22 of William Edward Frodsham's chronometers made for the voyage of HMS Beagle to South America and the Galapagos Islands. Darwin's theory of evolution made that voyage famous, but the real purpose was accurate coastal mapping. This chronometer served on 15 ships between 1831 and 1911, when it was finally de-accessioned by the Admiralty and sold into obscurity. Bonhams London rediscovered it and is putting it up for auction in its Fine Clocks Sale on 9 July, estimated value £30,000 - £50,000. The only other two surviving W.E.Frodsham chronometers that sailed on HMS Beagle are in The British Museum (CLICK).


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