One of the most notable items at the auction is a first edition account by John Harrison, written in 1763, regarding the success of his newly invented chronometer—a clock that could, for the first time, accurately measure longitude at sea—which helped bring maritime navigation into a new era. Harrison’s writing is an appeal to a member of British Parliament, as he believed the contraption was eligible for a full £20,000 reward (estimated at about £3.17 million in today’s money) the British government had offered to any inventor that developed technology to establish a safer way for ships to navigate.
“This is a very rare and desirable pamphlet that represents an important part of scientific maritime history,” Powell said. “It tells the interesting story of Mr. Harrison’s quest to obtain prize money from Parliament when they initially only wanted to pay a fraction.”
The pamphlet carries an estimated value of £30,000-40,000 ($39,000-52,000), and is one of three original items written by Harrison at the auction.
Another eye-catching item up for auction is a Bible that belonged to Matthew Boulton, a renowned silversmith best known for his credited role in helping invent the Boulton & Watt steam engine. Boulton was also a key member of the Lunar Society, a group of Birmingham men that played an active role in the arts, sciences, and theological movements of the time period.