An historically interesting mid 19th century two day rosewood marine chronometer John Poole chronometer, No 1086
Lot 137
An historically interesting mid 19th century two day rosewood marine chronometer
John Poole chronometer, No 1086
Sold for £7,200 (US$ 9,716) inc. premium

Lot Details
An historically interesting mid 19th century two day rosewood marine chronometer John Poole chronometer, No 1086
An historically interesting mid 19th century two day rosewood marine chronometer
John Poole chronometer, No 1086
The case with top lid removed over brass mounted sides and folding side handles, set to the centre section with a circular plaque bearing the Ordnance arrow and signed Poole/1086/Two Days, the lower section set with the lacquered brass locking nut and tipsy key, with shaped key escutcheon, the 3.5 inch signed silvered Roman dial with subsidiary dial for state of wind at XII over a subsidiary seconds dial, with blued steel hands, the spotted gilt movement with freesprung blued steel helical balance with diamond endstone and terminating in a heavy cut bimetallic balance with Poole's auxilliary compensation and Earnshaw type spring detent escapement, with maintaining power to the chain fusee The box 16cms (6.25ins) wide.


  • Poole number 1028 was purchased by the Royal Navy on August 14th, 1844. It saw a good deal of active service, it was directly involved in astronomical observations in 1874 and wartime service in 1916. It was only sold in 1919, after 75 years of duty. During it's time, it served on board HMS Cygnet, HMS Lightning, HMS Shearwater, HMS Sylvia, HMS City of London and HMS Caroline. It is also recorded that it spent time in Portsmouth, Devonport, the Cape Observatory, and Hong Kong. The most important expedition on which it served is that of the Transit of Venus observations at Rodriguez Island in 1874.

    HMS Shearwater arrrived at Rodriguez on August 18th. The expedition was led by Commander JWL Wharton, RN. His Lieutenant, a man named Neate, wrote that "Rodriguez is an island of basaltic rock, rising somewhat abruptly from the sea and fringed by coral reefs. A level sand-bank varying in breadth, nearly surrounds the island, and is dry at ordinary high water. The disembarkation of the huts, instruments and other heavy stores was necessarily a tedious operation, and could only be effected at high water." They had anchored at Port Mathurin and with the help of the local magistrate, a Mr C Bell, they chose the site of an old fort, formerly known as Fort Duncan, as a base camp because 'foundations could be obtained for all the instruments on solid rock without digging, and freshwater was abundant at the distance of 300 yards.' Two observing stations were set up, one at Point Venus and another at Point Coton.

    Three chronometers were taken on the expedition; a two day box chronometer by Baker, number 1083, a two-day pocket-box chronometer by Molyneux number 2280 and the current lot, Poole number 1083. It is recorded that Captain Wharton preferred the Poole instrument over either of the others for his personal observations of the Transit of Venus.

    A large folder of information concerning Wharton's expedition to RodrigueZ Island and his various observations is included with this lot.

    A part copy of the "Account of Observations of the Transit of Venus, 1874, December 8 made under the Authority of The British Government and of the Reduction of the Observations. Edited by Sir George Biddell Airy, KCB, Astronomer Royal" is sold with this lot.

    Also accompanying the lot are copies of the Ledger Pages from the Royal Observatory at Greenwich concerning Poole number 1086 when new in 1844. These list
    'Weekly sums of daily rates in the order of time'
    'Weekly sums of daily rates in the order of temperature' and
    'Abstract of the principle and changes of rate' and
    'Abstract of the Chronometers exposed to more severe trials, excluding the weeks of more severe cold or heat'

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that this Chronometer is numbered 1086 and not 1028 or 1083 as mentioned in error in the footnote. A thirty-seven page report entitled 'Determination of the Difference of Longitude between Rodriguez and Pamplemousses by the Transport of Chronometers' will be available during the view.
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