Howells, Barraud & Jamison Marine Chronometer

Howells, Barraud & Jamison Marine Chronometer

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In the 18th century, inventing a practical way to determine time and place was so important to the security of seafaring imperial nations of Western Europe that a number of governments established lucrative prizes to inspire a solution.
John Harrison received England's prize for inventing a timepiece accurate enough for determining longitude at sea. Harrison's timekeepers were ingenious, intricate and difficult to reproduce accurately and affordably. Nevertheless, they paved the way for the work of later inventor watchmakers, all of whom would help to revolutionize the maritime world by producing the timepieces that came to be known as marine chronometers.
Thomas Mudge, one of the watchmakers following Harrison, designed this instrument. Like Harrison's timepieces, Mudge's were extremely inventive and complex. And like Harrison, Mudge won an English government prize he had a struggle to receive.
Mudge's son, Thomas Mudge Jr., engaged a number of craftsmen to make copies of his father's work for public sale. The venture was a financial failure. The copies never accomplished the superior accuracy of the senior Mudge's own work, although their performance was adequate for maritime purposes.
Of the twenty-six copies of his father's design commissioned by the younger Mudge, this one is number fourteen. It is the product of a collaboration of three craftsmen: William Howells of Kennington in southeast London, Paul Philip Barraud also of London and George Jamison of Portsea, a town adjacent to the naval base of Portsmouth on the southern English coast. Marks on the timekeeper's movement indicate they completed it in London in 1802.
A plain wood box protects the instrument, which hangs in a framework of partial gimbals to keep it level on a rolling ship.
Currently on loan
Object Name
box chronometer
date made
Jamison, George
Barraud, Paul Philip
Howells, William
place made
United Kingdom: England, London
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
steel (overall material)
glass (overall material)
wood (overall material)
jewels (overall material)
wooden box - from catalog card: 5 3/8 in x 6 1/4 in x 6 1/4 in; 13.6525 cm x 15.875 cm x 15.875 cm
overall: 5 1/4 in x 6 3/4 in x 6 3/8 in; 13.335 cm x 17.145 cm x 16.1925 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Work and Industry: Mechanisms
Measuring & Mapping
Time and Navigation
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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