Chronometry: Guam and a historical chronometer

Discussion in 'Chronometers' started by burt, Aug 15, 2017.

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  1. burt

    burt Registered User
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    As the board is kinda slow I thought I'd post this piece of history. With Guam in the news did you ever wonder how it's people are American citizens today? Well it was a Spanish territory until the United States Congress declared war on Spain April 25, 1898. The U.S.S. Charleston, a heavy cruiser assigned to China Station was directed to to raise the the U.S. flag over Guam. On June 20, 1898 the Charleston entered the harbor of Apra Guam and fired her big 8 inch guns in a challenge of Fort Santa Cruz and with no opposition from the Spanish garrison the island was taken. I should mention that Negus Marine Chronometer #1273 was on board the ship during this event. You can read more about this very historic instrument and its many other adventures in the Watch and Clock Bulletin Sept/Oct 2015,Vol.57/5,No.417

    View attachment 353788
     
  2. burt

    burt Registered User
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    Also in the news is the upcoming astronomical event of the solar eclipse,in America, which is generating much public interest. While very interesting it doesn't have the research and practical value that the 1882 transit of the planet Venus had on the scientific community of that time. Congress even appropriated the sum of $85.000.00 (nearly 2 million in today's dollars) to equip an expedition which sailed to Patagonia along with Lieut. Samuel W.Very to observe the event. The purpose was to time and gather information on how long it required the planet to transit across the sun's surface. This and other information was critical in determining the "astronomical unit" or the earth's distance from the sun.Yes, Negus 1273 was selected as one of the chronometer instruments to go along with the expedition. While I've never been able to locate any of the observatories testing records of this chronometer it must have been an exceptionally accurate performer.

    The chronometer was also selected to accompany Lt.Cmdr. George Dewey in his surveying expedition of 1872-1873 of the many Pacific Islands,including the Marshals,Gilberts and Samoans. These same Islands would become strategically important during WWII and critical of our victory in the Pacific Theater. It's my understanding that the British Navy only uses the most accurate of chronometers for Hydrographic or surveying assignments giving them a special Grade 1 designation.

    Negus chronometer instruments must have been some of the highest quality and accurate that the United Stated Naval Observatory tested and purchased. During the 1870's the observatory recommended that at least one Negus chronometer be issued to each ship of the Navy along with its normal complement of chronometers.

    These duties along with a service record of having been assigned to no less than eight ships of war participating in battle actions from the American Civil War and every other conflict in between and including WWI, when its historical trail went cold. The longevity of these instruments are most remarkable.

    I certainly think this record of service justifies my calling this a "historical piece" and qualifies its place in American and naval history. I wanted to write about its record here as I realize many readers of the board don't get the Bulletin as they are not members of the association. We who collect and profess to admire the marine chronometer for its distinguished service in not only navigation,surveying and in many other areas of science should document their history for others to assess and appreciate their valve. It seems this is an area that is not as well represented in the printed horological world as other timing instruments. As I wrote "Marine Chronometers were perhaps the single most important instrument responsible for expansion of civilization and the modern world".
    View attachment 354205 View attachment 354206 Negus 1273 006.jpg View attachment 354208
     
  3. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
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    burt,
    I find your research most interesting and informative. Keep up the great work. !
    Thanks
     
  4. Paul Regan

    Paul Regan Registered User
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    #4 Paul Regan, Aug 19, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2017
    How fortunate you are Burt to own Negus 1273 and how fortunate we are to get to read your writings. Keep up the good work please!
    Paul
     
  5. burt

    burt Registered User
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    Jim and Paul,

    It seems like I can always count on you two for support and a kind word. Please believe me that I appreciate it very much! I wish more readers especially those interested in chronometers would engage in chronometer posts. Just a few years ago the general view with American chronometers was they had almost no retrievable history. While our brother collectors in England seemed to have the market on tracing the Royal Navy pieces. I really was in awe of reading about a particular chronometers history and wondered when someone would "break the ice" with an American chronometers story. I never thought it would be me. If there are other chronometer stories out in print please tell me where to look as I can't find them. I think if we have more input in the history of pieces the values of those chronometer pieces will increase. Look at what chronometers are selling for that have an interesting or historical past.
     
  6. River rat

    River rat Registered User
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    #6 River rat, Aug 23, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2017
    Nice chronometer with history. My first duty station in the US Navy was Guam got orders to the USS Proteus AS-19 at Polaris point for a year and a half before transferring to another ship. Speed limit about 35 miles per hour by car there cops have a field day on the Island. The water got a cool color of turquois and when you come into the harbor by ship you pass by Spanish steps these cliffs a view you never forget.
     
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