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The Case of Mr. John Harrison [drop-head and docket title].

[London]: 1773 Stock Code: 94021
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Harrison makes his case for the longitude prize

A rare and significant survival, this is the third of three editions published, the first undated in 1767, and another in 1770 (though no extant copy of that printing is recorded). This third was published the year before Harrison was awarded most of the prize offered under the terms of the 1714 Longitude Act, and indeed may never have been issued; its rarity would suggest that it may have been withdrawn as Harrison's complaint was finally settled. The pamphlet sets out Harrison's case that his chronometer had passed every test set by the commissioners of the board of longitude. In particular, he complains that his masterpiece H4 has been duplicated successfully by the watchmaker Larcum Kendall, while he, the original maker, has been denied all access to his own creation.

The story of Harrison's long struggle for recompense is now well known. The Longitude Act had offered "to reward anyone who could provide a method for determining longitude at sea within certain prescribed limits on a trial to the West Indies. The prizes were 10,000 for a determination to within 60 geographical miles, 15,000 to within 40 geographical miles and 20,000 to within 30 geographical miles" (ODNB).

Despite the notable success of Harrison's chronometers in successive trials, the board was reluctant to award the prize in full, so Harrison resorted to lobbying in print on his own behalf. The three Cases of Mr. John Harrison were significant documents in that campaign. In 1774 he was awarded a final payment of 8,750, which, including all the payments over the years, came to a total of more than 20,000.

No copy recorded in WorldCat; ESTC locates copies at the BL and the National Trust.

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Folio, pp. 4. Disbound. Housed in a custom black cloth chemise and slipcase by the Chelsea Bindery.


Numbered in manuscript "42" in ink and "142" in blue pencil at upper outer corner of first page.


A little paper restoration at centre fold, faint shadow of an ink stamp to first page, very good.


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