The Collections

Longitude punk'd

Created: 16.09.13

I have chosen these objects to capture the spirit of invention which the Longitude Punk'd exhibition showcases. My choice is inspired by the technical inventions that were presented to the Board of Longitude between 1714-1828 (see also Richard Dunn's "Board of Longitude" post). Most of the objects and images are from the 18th century, although see if you can spot a Heath-Robinson cartoon from 1910!

  • Name
  • Artist / Maker
  • Date made
  • ID
  • Vallardi
    Mons. Télescope Philosophe

    A hand-coloured etching showing a grotesque head of a man above a group of instruments including telescopes, an octant, dividers, set square, square rule and a globe. The print is listed in the 'Bibliographie de la France' for 1814 (p.…

  • Unknown
    18th century
    Mechanical equinoctial dial

    Mechanical equinoctial dial for latitudes 20°-90° North. The dial has a square brass base supported by four turned levelling screws. On the base-plate there is a latitude scale along the meridian line with a slot down the centre allowing a…

  • Charnock, John
    Broadside and aerial views of a land yacht in the form of  triangular-shaped ketch-rigged sailing vessel on wheels

    Mounted with PAF2929-PAF2951, PAF2953-PAF2956.; Page number 24.

  • Unknown
    circa 1765

    Jacket from astonomer's observing suit, also comprising ZBA4676 - leggings/trousers. Belonged to Nevil Maskelyne, 5th Astronomer Royal. Composed of a silk outer layer with a lining made from linen and wool and additional cotton wadding to create a quilted effect.

  • Unknown
    circa 1765

    Trousers/leggings from astonomer's observing suit, also comprising and ZBA4675 - jacket. Belonged to Nevil Maskelyne, 5th Astronomer Royal. Composed of a silk outer layer with a lining made from linen and wool and additional cotton wadding to create a quilted…

  • Gilbert & Sons
    Dry card compass

    Azimuth compasses are used for taking bearings from a ship. They therefore have vertical sights on top and the compass card is divided into degrees as well as the points of the compass. This example is a dry card compass.…

  • Smith, James

    Pocket watch in silver pair case. Thirty hour duration, single train, four pillar, gilt metal fusee movement with verge escapement. Pierced and engraved balance cock with grotesque mask. Steel balance with blued-steel, flat spiral balance spring. Tompion style regulator with…

  • Russell, John

    John Russell's Selenographia consists of a large lunar sphere and a small terrestrial sphere. It is constructed to reproduce the librations, or motions, of the Moon with respect to the Earth. Only one side is illustrated, the other is blank,…

  • Cawthorn, George
    circa 1780
    Equipment model; Ship's firehearth model

    Until the middle of the eighteenth century, ships had large copper kettles for boiling the crew's food, set into brick hearths. After that, all-metal stoves were used. Brodie stoves were an improvement on the origional model. The lids of the…

  • Unknown
    circa 1830
    Equipment model; Propeller model

    Scale: Unknown. A model of an early propeller, depicting a design by Captain G. Peacock (circa 1839). The model has two leather blades with iron frames attached to a mechanism that allows the propeller to feather itself when not in…

  • Valk, Gerard

    Tellurium. Geographical details on the sphere include loxodromes for 32 compass points. California is still an island and the extension of north-west America is labelled 'TERRA INCOGNITA / sive / TERRA ESONIS'. In Central Asia the Caspian Sea and Lake…

  • Bardin
    circa 1800

    A tellurium is a model that represents the motions of the Moon around the Earth and the Earth around the Sun. This example, by an unknown maker, has a base consisting of two wooden discs separated by twelve small pilasters.…

  • Brunel, Marc Isambard
    About 1801
    No 2
    Structural model; Mortising machine

    Scale: circa 1:4. A model of a mortising machine made entirely in metal with component parts made of brass and steel. At one end of the model is a large six spoked wheel painted black, and a large handle for…

  • Unknown
    circa 1780
    octant with artificial horizon

    This unusual sextant incorporates an early attempt to solve the problem of taking a sight when the horizon is not clearly visible. The sextant has an anodized brass frame in two sections joined at the apex with the limb at…

  • Berge, Matthew
    circa 1810


  • Petrus Plancius, Petrus
    Celestial clockwork globe

    Celestial clockwork globe. Astronomical details on the sphere include a magnitude table within a cartouche, below Crater. The Milky Way is labelled, and 14 stars and four star groups are named. The 48 Ptolemaic constellations and four non-Ptolemaic constellations are…

  • Ferguson, James
    A machine for showing the Motions of the Earth and Phases of the Moon

    This is a framed pen and ink drawing entitled 'A machine for shewing the Motions of the Earth and Phases of the Moon' by the instrument-maker, author and lecturer James Ferguson (1710-1776). A date appears under the title on the…

  • Barbier & Benard Constructions
    Carbon arc lamp

    Carbon arc lamp Believed to have been used at the Lizard Lighthouse between 1878 and 1903. Electric lamp manufactured in France. Curent jumps the gap between two carbon rods, causing an intense light. Gap is maitained by a clockwork regulator…

  • Sisson, Jonathan
    circa 1730
    quadrant, universal

    Brass quadrant 9.75" (24.8cm) radius, graduated 0-95 by 15'. Fitted with an index bar (telescopes missing) carrying a vernier reading to 1'. A compass 3.25" (8.2cm) dia., graduated to 8 points and to 360 degs, is mounted at centre of…

  • Brunel, Marc Isambard
    circa 1802
    No 4
    Shaping Machine

    Scale: Unknown. A model of a shaping machine made entirely in metal with wooden components and a brass frame. The uprights depict architectural columns and the whole structure is rectangular in plan view. Two crossbars support an axle on which…

  • Thwaites & Reed
    Rolling ball clock

    A reproduction of Sir William Congreve’s rolling ball clock by Thwaites & Reed, London, made circa 1972 Full description in notes field.

  • Hatton, James
    circa 1810

    Marine chronometer numbered 349, by James Hatton. An eight-day double-frame movement with reverse fusee. The fusee has stop-work and Harrison's maintaining power. Earnshaw-type spring-detent escapement. Compensation balance with helical balance spring. Mounted in two-tier box, push-catch for lid and lock…

  • W. & S. Jones

    Compound orrery with fittings for planetarium, tellurium and lunarium on brass base with supporting column and three legs. An inscriptions engraved on the base plateare the maker's name, "W. & S. Jones, 135 Holborn, London.", and a table of planetary…

  • Herschel, Alexander Stewart
    circa 1790
    Bell machine

    Telescope bell machine (or 'zone clock') made by Alexander Herschel and used by William Herschel with his 40-inch telescope. Bell machines were designed to solve a problem William Herschel encountered as he used his 20-foot telescope for ‘sweeping’ for nebulae,…

  • Harrison, John

    Marine timekeeper, H1. This is the first experimental marine timekeeper made by John Harrison in Barrow-on-Humber between 1730 and 1735 as a first step towards solving the longitude problem and winning the great £20,000 prize offered by the British Government.…

  • Unknown
    Lantern slide

    This wooden box contains approximately 77 miscellaneous lantern slides that depict astronomical phenomena. The slides are mostly labelled "BAA" (British Astronomical Association) and, among these, several are labelled as being of the collections of individuals who were BAA members and…

  • Paton, Richard
    circa 1783
    Dioramic model of the Battle of the Saints, 12 April 1782

    This model of Admiral Rodney’s victory at the Battle of the Saints (1782) after an (engraved) 1783 painting by Richard Paton, with Admiral Sir George Rodney's flagship 'Formidable' on the left and Hood's 'Barfleur' on the right. The model combines…

  • Charnock, John
    Miscellaneous instrument on a table, possibly an electrical machine, with scale

    Mounted with PAF2929-PAF2937, PAF2939-PAF2956.; Page number 10.; Medium includes watercolour.

  • Unknown
    19th century
    Pocket watch movement

    Pocket watch movement with dial and hands. It has a Going-barrel movement, unsigned and unnumbered, with a lever escapement and compensation balance with regulator. The watch has an enamel dial with Roman numerals and spade and poker hands. There is…