WATT (JAMES) Autograph letter signed ("James Watt") to John Rennie, sending a detailed abstract of his assistant John Southern's observations on Rowland & Pickering's lock machine for canals, Soho, 25 August 1797

This lot has been removed from the website, please contact customer services for more information

Lot 182
WATT (JAMES)
Autograph letter signed ("James Watt") to John Rennie, sending a detailed abstract of his assistant John Southern's observations on Rowland & Pickering's lock machine for canals and expressing his doubts, Soho, 25 August 1797

Sold for £ 1,785 (US$ 2,244) inc. premium
WATT (JAMES)
Autograph letter signed ("James Watt") to John Rennie, sending a detailed abstract of his assistant John Southern's observations on Rowland & Pickering's lock machine for canals, which he was unable to see for himself, expressing his own scepticism about the machine ("As long experience of the fallacy of Theoretical reasoning has made me very sceptical as to the success of new contrivances..."), and noting that the technology should not be tested on "an extensive scale" until fully reviewed and offering alternative solutions to the "probable defects" in the raising and lowering mechanism, 3pp with integral address panel, seal and docket, 4to, (258 x 200mm.), Soho, 25 August 1797

Footnotes

  • JAMES WATT ADVISES HIS PROTÉGÉ AND FRIEND JOHN RENNIE ON CANAL ENGINEERING: Rennie's acquaintance with James Watt began in 1783 when he procured an introduction during a study tour and subsequently joined Boulton & Watt, masterminding the revolutionary design of the Albion flour mill in Blackfriars. By 1791, Rennie was self-employed and in 1796 was asked by the Ellesmere Canal Company to assess the prototype for Rowland & Pickering's boat lift, patented in 1794, to be installed at Ruabon. As his friend and mentor, Watt would be an obvious choice for Rennie to turn to for advice, particularly as Watt had begun his own career working on several canal projects in Scotland, the last and most significant being the survey of the Caledonian Canal between Fort William and Inverness in 1774. It would appear that, following Watt's advice given here, Rennie's final report was unfavourable, for this branch of the Ellesmere canal was never built and Rowland & Pickering were later reimbursed the sum of £200 of the £800 they had expended on a prototype never to be used. However, the principle employed by Rowland & Pickering was later successfully used on several continental canals. For a detailed account of the machine and this project see Richard Dean, 'The Machine', a Boat Lift Mystery Solved? (www.pontcysyllte-aqueduct.co.uk).

    Provenance: Bonhams, Papers & Portraits: The Roy Davids Collection Part II, 29 March 2011, lot 359.
Contacts
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories, buyer's premium excluding Cars, Motorbikes, Wine, Whisky and Coin & Medal sales, will be as follows:

Buyer's Premium Rates
27.5% on the first £20,000 of the hammer price;
26% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £20,000 up to and including £700,000;
20% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £700,000 up to and including £4,500,000;
and 14.5% of the hammer price of any amounts in excess of £4,500,000.

VAT at the current rate of 20% will be added to the Buyer's Premium and charges excluding Artists Resale Right.

Payment Notices

For payment information please refer to the sale catalogue.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licences please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

App