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    The Race for Longitude

    François César Letellier, Marquis de Courtanvaux. Journal du Voyage de M. le Marquis de Courtanvaux, sur la Frégate l'Aurore, pour essayer par ondre de l'Académie, plusieurs Instrumens relatives à la Longitude. Mis en ordre par M. Pingré, chanoine régulier de Ste. Geneviéve, nommé par l'Académie pour coopérer à la verification desdits Instrumens, de concert avec M. Messier, Astronomie de la Marine. Paris: l'Imprimerie Royale, 1768. First edition. Quarto. [2], viii, 316, [3], [1, blank] pages. With five folding engraved plates (including one map) inserted. Contemporary full mottled calf, covers double-ruled in blind, spine elaborately tooled in gilt in compartments, burgundy gilt morocco lettering label, five raised bands, gilt board edges, marbled leaves, all edges red. Some minor rubbing to binding, very minor foxing in text. An exceptionally clean and bright copy. Fine.

    More Information:

    An important account of the race to perfect a method of measuring longitude. A former military man, Courtanvaux (1718-1781) became fascinated in studying the natural sciences, and was elected to the Académie des Sciences in 1764. This book is a report of the voyage undertaken by Courtanvaux, at his own expense, to allow for the accurate assessment for the measurement of longitude at sea by various methods by various competitors. The main competitor was the royal horologer, Pierre le Roy, using two versions of the chronometer he had invented. These chronometers "embodied all the principles upon which later marine chronometers were constructed" (Norman), and Le Roy won the double prize for their successful performance.

    BM Readex, XV, p. 169. Chamberlain, It's About Time, p. 342. National Maritime Museum, Catalogue of the Library, Voyages & Travel, 1149a. Norman 1335.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2012
    4th-5th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
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