Parkinson & Frodsham Box Chronometer

Parkinson & Frodsham Box Chronometer

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
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.
Currently on loan
Object Name
box chronometer
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
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object