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  1. #1

    Thumbs up REVIEW: Gould/Betts: The Marine Chronometer - 2nd EDITION (2013 - IMPORTANT BOOK

    Book review as submittedmto the NAWCC Watch and Clock Journal by Fortunat Mueller-Maerki
    Version Aug 19 2013

    The Most Important Book on the History of the Marine Chronometer

    The Marine Chronometer, Its History and Development, incorporating Gould’s own amendments and additions rom his original annotated manuscripts, by Rupert T. Gould, with new illustrations and a foreword to this edition by Jonathan Betts. [The ‘2nd’ Edition]. Published in 2013, by Antique Collectors’ Club. ISBN 978-1-85149-365-4. Hardcover (cloth, dust jacket), 496 pages, 26 x 20 cm, ca. xx illustrations, many in color. Available at http://www.amazon.com/Marine-Chronometer-Its-History-Development/dp/1851493654/for ca. US$ 120 plus shipping. NAWCC members may borrow a lending copy from the Library in Columbia Pa.

    Finally, the long delayed and much anticipated 2nd edition of a great horological book is available. The wait may rank among the longest ever for a ‘2md edition’. Horologists with a serious interest in marine chronometers and their history all agree that the best available book on the subject is the text by Gould, first published in 1923. The last copy of the original 1st edition was sold in January 1942. Within weeks of the first publication, in anticipation of that day, Gould had started annotating his two personal copies of the book (actually custom bound books of galley sheets with extra wide margins) with detailed (and dated) marginal notes, and he worked on that task on-and-off, as his workload and health permitted, for 23 years till his death in 1946. But only now, 90 years after publication of the 1st edition, and 70 years after the 1st printing sold out, we can finally get the ‘2nd revised and enlarged’ edition.

    Obviously there are other books on the history of the marine chronometer: My choice for second ranked book would be von Bertele: Marine and Pocket Chronometers, History and Development (1981ff in German, 1991ff in English), followed by Whitney: Ships Chronometer (1981ff) and Parvulesco: L’heure en Mer, une histoire de chronometer (2010, in French), although the latter two are somewhat biased toward their ‘home country’ (but then so was Gould who, while recognizing the contributions of makers like Pierre LeRoy, Breguet or Guillaume, is somewhat dismissive of the overall contribution of France).

    But these are ‘2nd choice’ texts ranking after the Gould book, whose price after 1942 started increasing in the used book market. In 1960, after an 18 year wait, in Holland Press at least published an unchanged reprinting of the first editions (with subsequent, additional re-printings of the 1st edition in 1971, 1973, 1976 and 1978). In the early 1980s the British publisher ‘Antique Collectors’ Club’ bought the rights to the first edition from Gould’s heirs, but in spite of intense efforts at the time could not find a chronometer expert to create the 2nd edition, so eventually they too republished (in 1989) the first edition (with some altered illustrations and textual errors thrown in for good measure).

    By the turn of the millennium even the newer ‘reprints’ were so scarce and sought after that they retailed for hundreds of dollars. The global community of chronometer scholars and aficionados agreed that any second edition would need to incorporate the corrections that Gould himself had suggested between 1923 and 1942. But that was easier said than done: First there were complex intellectual property issues to solve between the two owners who had acquired the two physical books with Gould’s annotations, and the heirs of Gould (who owned the copyright to the text of the first edition). The fact that the two annotated copies differ significantly, and at times seem to contradict each other, also posed problems of Salomonic proportions, which only someone with an intimate knowledge of chronometer history, and a good sense of Gould’s mindset could hope to tackle.

    It has been quite clear for some time who would be best qualified for that difficult job: Jonathan Betts, the biographer of Gould (Time Restored – The Harrison Timekeepers and R.T. Gould; 2006, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-856802-9) and as the Senior Curator of Horology at Royal Museums Greenwich, the custodian of many of the world’s most important historic chronometers. But for many years Jonathan was busy with his many other roles, in addition to writing the Gould biography. But in the end it happened: The collaboration of Betts, and the publishers, and the copyright holder has produced what this reviewer considers the most important horology book of the year.

    Its layout is highly unconventional: The bulk of the book consists of a re-typeset facsimile of the first edition as originally published in 1923 (including errors, idiosyncratic page numbering, original footnotes, original illustrations, original index, etc.), on slightly larger pages allowing to print –in a different font- the marginal notes from both of Gould’s two personal copies of the first edition (incl. occasional sketches). Where Gould suggested deletions these are marked in ‘Overstrike’ format. Footnote type numerals refer the reader to Gould’s comments, corrections, additions and deletions. Particularly the marginal ‘Comments’, even if they did not lead Gould to recommend changes in the text make for very interesting reading. There are virtually no pages without marginalia, the majority of pages have 4 to 8 of them (in addition to the original printed footnotes of the 1st edition, of which there are several on most pages). In some instances where the Gould copies included longer inserted notes on separate sheets the resulting texts and sketches are reproduced as additional inserted pages in the 2nd edition.

    The resulting reading experience for this reviewer was vastly unlike casually reading a book. It felt more like attending a graduate seminar involving textual analysis. Of course one could read the new edition of Gould ignoring the hundreds of foot- and margin-notes, but one would miss a unique experience. By also reading all the notes in addition to the main narrative this reviewer felt nearly like he were engaging in a one-on-one interactive discussion with Gould. By reading every footnote and margin annotation one can now appreciate the nuances and complexities of Gould’s thinking. Reading the new book in this manner is a slow, intellectually challenging process, but a most rewarding and satisfying experience.

    Additional new material of the 2nd edition (all in the front of the book) now includes: 1. A one page “Publisher’s Note”, 2. a two image frontispiece, 3. an eight page “Foreword” by Betts (including 7 plates), 4. a 36 page, 54 plates “Picture Gallery of Chronometers”, supplementing the 39 plates and 84 figures (pen and ink drawings by Gould, originals now owned by the Museum in Greenwich) from the first edition, which were left at the location they were originally published. This additional information alone justifies the purchase of the 2nd edition

    The “1st edition” already was a most thorough and comprehensive text dealing with the subject of “The Marine Chronometer, Its History and Development”, but the new 2013 edition offers so much more that that any horologists who appreciates marine chronometers should buy it irrespective if an earlier copy already sits on the bookshelf.

    This reviewer appreciates the huge effort that went into creating the new book by the Antiques’ Collectors Club (Publisher), Susannah Hecht (Editor), Jonathan Betts (who provided the horological expertise). You have done justice to the legacy of Gould. Thank you[1].

    Fortunat F. Mueller-Maerki, Sussex NJ, August 12, 2013



    [1] The author is indebted to David Grace for his comments and suggestions while discussing a draft of this book review.


    Image captions:
    a Dust jacket, with image of Harrison’s H1
    b Figures 12 & 13 from original book, note Goulds marginal comments for a 2nd edition based on his two personal copies of the first edition
    c Harrisons’ H2
    d Harrisons’ H4
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    Last edited by Fortunat Mueller-Maerki; 08-19-2013 at 07:13 AM.
    Fortunat Mueller-Maerki, -Chair NAWCC Library Com./ Editor & Publisher of BHM
    Mem.NAWCC Mus.Coll.Com. / VP, USA Sect. Antiq.Horolog.Soc.

  2. #2
    Technical Admin Tom McIntyre's Avatar
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    Default Re: REVIEW: Gould/Betts: The Marine Chronometer - 2nd EDITION (2013 - IMPORTANT BOOK (By: Fortunat Mueller-Maerki)

    I think it is worthwhile to note that Betts gives Hecht credit for the creation of this work with the statement that he, personally, could not have done the merging and mingling to make it make sense.

    I am looking forward to other volumes that she may be involved with.
    Tom McIntyre Click me.
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    you won't have anything to laugh at when you're old.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: REVIEW: Gould/Betts: The Marine Chronometer - 2nd EDITION (2013 - IMPORTANT BOOK (By: Tom McIntyre)

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom McIntyre View Post
    I think it is worthwhile to note that Betts gives Hecht credit for the creation of this work with the statement that he, personally, could not have done the merging and mingling to make it make sense..
    I am not discounting Hechts contribution, which was obviously essential to get the new book into a usable format. But it is my sense that Betts is giving her credit for agreeing to (and doing the tedious editing work) in the unvonventional format retaining the full verbatim text of both Gould annotated copies, and the ' overstrike' format etc..

    I do not know who initially suggested that this format might work. In retrospect it could well be a idea that emerged from the lengthy discussions between Betts and Hecht that the coorperation doubtlessly required.


    I am not aware of any other 'critical' re-edition that has used this path, and it it is far from obvious that it can work, but I found it brilliant.
    Fortunat Mueller-Maerki, -Chair NAWCC Library Com./ Editor & Publisher of BHM
    Mem.NAWCC Mus.Coll.Com. / VP, USA Sect. Antiq.Horolog.Soc.

  4. #4
    Technical Admin Tom McIntyre's Avatar
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    Default Re: REVIEW: Gould/Betts: The Marine Chronometer - 2nd EDITION (2013 - IMPORTANT BOOK (By: Fortunat Mueller-Maerki)

    We can ask Jonathan at "Time For Everyone" in November.

    My felling from his comments was that he presented a problem that he was not sure could be solved with any reasonable amount of work and she came up with a brilliant solution.

    It is fascinating that the result is a kind of "meta-book" or book about a book that is contained within the book.
    Tom McIntyre Click me.
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    you won't have anything to laugh at when you're old.
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