Parkinson & Frodsham Box Chronometer

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This instrument is a specialized timekeeper designed for finding longitude at sea. Its form is that of the standardized 19th-century marine chronometer. Parkinson & Frodsham, a firm trading in high-quality chronometers, clocks and watches, was established in 1801 by William James Frodsham (1778-1850) and William Parkinson (d. about 1842). From 1801 to 1890, the firm’s business address was 4 Change Alley, and thereafter at other addresses until 1947.
Mechanism details:
Escapement: Earnshaw, spring detent
Duration: 56-hour
Power source: Spring drive with chain and fusee
Balance spring: Helical, blued steel, Earnshaw type
Inscription: "Parkinson & Frodsham." on backplate, "Change Alley / London" on barrel bridge
Bowl details:
Brass bowl
Brass gimbals
Bezel screwed and milled
Crystal convex and chamfered
Dial details:
Engraved and silvered brass
Indicates hours, minutes, seconds, winding level up and down
Hands: blued steel, early spade
Inscription: "Parkinson & Frodsham / Change Alley London. 2349"
Case details:
Box: solid wood, three-part, glazed center section
Brass corners, cartouche and key escutcheon
Roundel in bone
Inscriptions: none
1. Gould, Rupert T. The Marine Chronometer. Essex: Holland Press, 1960.
2. Mercer, Tony. Chronometer Makers of the World. London: NAG Press, 1991.
3. Mercer, R. Vaudry. The Frodshams. The Story of a Family of Chronometer Makers. London: Antiquarian Horological Society monograph 21, 1981.
4. Whitney, Marvin,E. The Ship's Chronometer. Cincinnati: American Watchmakers Institute Press, 1985.
date made
ca 1840
Parkinson & Frodsham
place made
United Kingdom: England, London
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
glass (overall material)
steel (overall material)
wood (container material)
overall - box: 7 1/8 in x 7 in x 6 3/8 in; 18.0975 cm x 17.78 cm x 16.1925 cm
overall - key: 3 in x 1 1/4 in x 3/4 in; 7.62 cm x 3.175 cm x 1.905 cm
dial - from catalog card: 3 3/8 in; 8.5725 cm
box - from catalog card: 6 1/2 in x 6 1/2 in x 6 1/2 in; 16.51 cm x 16.51 cm x 16.51 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Work and Industry: Mechanisms
Measuring & Mapping
Time and Navigation
Time and Navigation, National Air and Space Museum
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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