Chronometry: John Bliss Chronometer Display at Mystic, Ct.

Discussion in 'Chronometers' started by Ralph, Oct 10, 2015.

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  1. Ralph

    Ralph Registered User
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    Jan 22, 2002
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    Some of you may find this display interesting. It shows John Bliss chronometer parts in various stages of finishing.

    Mystic 002.jpg Mystic 003.jpg Mystic 004.jpg Mystic 005.jpg Mystic 006.jpg Mystic 007.jpg Mystic 008.jpg Mystic 009.jpg Mystic 012.jpg Mystic 017.jpg

    The display seems to be surviving in the uncontrolled environment where it is displayed.

    Ralph
     
  2. MartyR

    MartyR Moderator
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    Dec 16, 2008
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    I'm interested in why you might expect it not to survive, Ralph?

    It's a fascintaing looking exhibit ... makes me wish I knew enough to be able to identify the parts, let alone visualise how they all fitted together!
     
  3. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Martin,

    I agree, this is fascinating. I particularly like the section centre right, which shows how a bimetallic balance was made, with the steel blank having a brass coating cast on before being machined down into a shallow dish and crossed out.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  4. Ralph

    Ralph Registered User
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    It's in a small out building to emulate a period clock shop. It's part of a simulated villlage setting.

    I forget if it had an coal or wood burning stove in the building.

    Here are a few other pictures from my file that might give you a sense of the location. These are from a few years ago, so things might have changed.

    Mystic 013.jpg Mystic 014.jpg Mystic 015.jpg Mystic 016.jpg

    Ralph
     
  5. MartyR

    MartyR Moderator
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    That's very "Mystic", Ralph :D I've only been there once, and that in almost monsoon conditions so I didn't get to see much of it ... but what little I did see was very atmospheric and very enjoyable.
     
  6. davy26

    davy26 Registered User

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    I have only recently become aware of John Bliss & Co.

    In researching a just-published post on my blog, www.theoldwatchword.blogspot.co.uk, I came across an English craftsman, George Abbott. George, against the run of play in transatlantic horological traffic of the day, exported himself to the East Coast, where he found employment with John Bliss. Whilst with this company, George won medals at the Paris exhibition of 1900.

    My research led me to the most excellent website of Norman Bliss: http://blisschron.org/jbliss.html. Posters here probably already know it, but if you don't, I highly recommend a visit. Be prepared for an extended period of browsing as you'll be fascinated by the content!
     
  7. Paul Regan

    Paul Regan Registered User

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    Thanks for posting this Ralph. What a wonderful display. I would like to have this display next to my Bliss & Creighton.
    Paul
     
  8. watchwldr940

    watchwldr940 Registered User
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    As an aside, and with the understanding that I'm not sure its the same location, I will add the following:
    Recently there was an exhibit at the Folgers Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC of Marine Chronometers. Not just any marine chronometers-- there were working replicas of Harrison's H1, H2, and H3, as well as the case, dial , and hands of H4! In addition, there was Harrison's regulator (or I guess I should say, tall case) clock that he made and used. In addition, there were 3 Larkin Kent (? am I correct here?) chronometers made from Harrison's drawings, one of which was on the HMS Bounty and one which went with Captain Cook. A truly once in a lifetime opportunity to see these items here in America. Some of us from Phila Chapter 1 went down on the last day of the exhibit and were treated to a talk by Rory McEvoy, curator of the Greenwich museum, who was there to pack them up and take them to-- Mystic, Conn.(!) This was late Aug and they were only going to be in Mystic for a short while so I'm not sure if they are still in Mystic, but it would be worth the trip if they are still there. From Mystic they're going to Australia, then home to England. There were other artifacts as well, and the stories behind them are fascinating. Also, while photos were not permitted, there was a videographer there from NAWCC to produce a documentary that will be availably through our library when it is finished.
    As luck would have it my family had a trip to London planned for Sept that had Greenwich on the itenary as a mandatory stop, and I got to see H1, H2, and H3 WORKING! Also, the movement of H4. So I got to see all of H4, but had to travel several thousand miles to do so.
    BTW-they do not run H4. George
     
  9. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi George,

    Not "Larkin Kent" but Larcum Kendall, a very fine craftsman who was commissioned to make the first copy of H4 and later worked for Mudge & Dutton.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  10. watchwldr940

    watchwldr940 Registered User
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    Thanks, Graham! My "Fact-Checker" was laying down on the job! I'll have to have a talk with that guy! George
     
  11. MartyR

    MartyR Moderator
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    To be honest, George, if someone asked me which of Larkin and Larcum was a real first name, all of my money would have gone on Larkin :whistle:
     
  12. Norman Bliss

    Norman Bliss Registered User
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    #12 Norman Bliss, Mar 17, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2016
    Two things:

    1, The Nautical Instrument shop at Mystic Seaport is a fully climate controlled building, the only one in the "Village" area of the museum. Visitors on a hot summer day appreciate that very much. I certainly did when I worked there. While there is an "airtight" coal stove there, it's for show, not heating. The Bliss display was made for the 1876 Centennial exhibition in Philadelphia as proof that Bliss could make a chronometer completely from scratch. Over time, several parts were removed, one assumes to be used to repair a chronometer. Missing are a complete balance wheel and a dial.

    2, The Sea, Clocks & Stars exhibit is still open at the seaport; it closes March 28, so you've still got time to see it before it heads to it's fourth & last stop in Sydney Australia. I was present for the opening of the exhibit and got to talk with Dava Sobel, Dr. Andrewes, and the gentleman who built the "nearly exact" replica of H1. Nearly exact because he included large holes in the plates so visitors could see the mechanism better (at least one of the other replicas has lucite instead of brass plates for the same reason).

    Oh, and thanks to davy26 for his kind words about the John Bliss Virtual Museum.
     

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