A manuscript logbook, HMS "Challenger" Expedition 1872-76

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Lot 8
A manuscript logbook, HMS Challenger Expedition 1872-76

Sold for £ 19,200 (US$ 25,618) inc. premium
A manuscript logbook, HMS Challenger Expedition 1872-76
Compiled by Lieutenant Arthur Bromley, Assistant Surveyor, from 15 November 1872 to 27 May 1876. A daily logbook, recording position, weather conditions, temperature and barometric pressure, together with details of soundings and deep sea dredging and trawling operations with observations. Pasted in each month's section is a recording barograph strip with pressure and temperature, plus notes on wind and weather. The logbook continues with a voyage on HMS Swift from 1 July 1885 to 17 February 1888 on the China Station.

In addition, there are assorted papers, including the discharge papers of Arthur Bromley, recording his appointments from Acting Sub Lieutenant in 1867 to Commander in 1882, together with a small collection of photographs, including HMS Challenger in Dry dock in Yokohama, Japan, the main deck showing the scientific equipment, at anchor in Farm Cove, Sydney Harbour and in the Kerguelen Islands, and a portrait of Sir Thomas Maclean, Astronomer at the Cape of Good Hope Observatory.


  • The circumnavigation of the screw corvette HMS Challenger has been described as marking the birth of modern Oceanography.

    At the instigation of the biologists William Carter and Charles Thompson, the Admiralty agreed to fund a three and a half year voyage of scientific exploration. Challenger was specially adapted for the expedition, with all but two of her guns removed to accommodate the special laboratories and surveying facilities required for her six scientists and her two hundred and twenty-five crew. Command was given to Captain George Nares, an experienced surveyor and veteran of Sir Edward Belcher’s search for Franklin in 1852. After fitting out at Sheerness, the vessel departed from Spithead in January 1873 on a voyage that would cross most of the World’s oceans. Using a collection of 362 surveying stations, approximately 100 miles apart, the Challenger took extensive soundings, recorded water temperature, salinity and current, took samples of the sea bed and biological material from deep-sea dredges and trawls. Careful analysis followed on board and cased examples were periodically returned to England. For the first time, detailed information was collected from the deepest parts of the Ocean, to depths in excess of 8,200 metres. Watercolours and the new science of photography were also employed to record native life and traditions whenever the ship touched shore.

    By the time the voyage was completed, Challenger had sailed a staggering 68,890 miles.

    A vast quantity of biological and other material had been collected by the time the ship returned to England in the summer of 1876 and work started immediately to study and catalogue the findings for publication. Under the supervision of her Junior Naturalist John Murray, the mammoth work of fifty volumes was finally completed nineteen years later. This major resource, and the original samples kept at the Natural History Museum, are still in constant use by researchers today.
    The voyage proved the swansong for HMS Challenger. Demoted on her return to Coastguard watch ship at Harwich, she was paid off into reserve two years later and was finally broken up at Chatham in 1921.

    Captain George Nares left the ship in 1874, returning to England at the Admiralty’s request to take charge of the British Arctic Expedition on the strength of his earlier Polar experience (printed ephemera includes the lithographed invitation to the banquet given by the Mayor of Portsmouth), the survey being completed by Captain Frank Thompson.

    Arthur Charles Burgoyne Bromley was born in 1848 and entered the Navy as a Midshipman. As a young Lieutenant, he was appointed to the Survey team on HMS Challenger in December 1872 at the commencement of her epic Oceanographic expedition. He was appointed Assistant Surveyor on board in 1874. Following his return to England, he was appointed Commander in 1882. Between 1885 and 1888 he was in command of the composite gunboat HMS Swift on the China Station, and was promoted to Captain on his return. He was in command of a troopship, a cruiser and finally the battleship HMS Hood in the Mediterranean before taking up the post of Inspecting Captain of Boy’s Training Ships. Raised to Rear Admiral in 1901, he became Admiral Superintendent of the Dockyard at Malta, serving until promoted to Vice Admiral in 1906. He died in Service in October 1909.

    The family by direct descent
A manuscript logbook, HMS "Challenger" Expedition 1872-76
A manuscript logbook, HMS "Challenger" Expedition 1872-76
A manuscript logbook, HMS Challenger Expedition 1872-76
A manuscript logbook, HMS Challenger Expedition 1872-76
A manuscript logbook, HMS "Challenger" Expedition 1872-76
A manuscript logbook, HMS "Challenger" Expedition 1872-76
A manuscript logbook, HMS "Challenger" Expedition 1872-76
A manuscript logbook, HMS "Challenger" Expedition 1872-76
A manuscript logbook, HMS "Challenger" Expedition 1872-76
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