Super Saturday – a fab day in the gallery, with some exciting discoveries

By Laura Sorensen, Project Assistant

I had my very own ‘Super Saturday’ in the Stories from the Stores gallery on the July 27th. We had lots of visitors, lots of interaction and some very interesting discoveries. Here is some information about what was found!

One of our objects, labelled as a ‘Lace Table Runner’, was not familiar to any of the staff. However, it was recognised by a visitor as a device for winding bobbins, for lace-making. She could even show us how it would have been used.

Secondly, we have been able to identify the purpose of one of the more curious items listed as an ‘agricultural implement’ – a sewage pipe stopper!! Our one is similar to the following picture. They are still in use today and haven’t changed much in design. This was identified by a visitor to the Gallery who is a ‘Water Engineer’! He gave me a description of how it works too which I’ve recorded in our gallery notebook.

Image © Pipe Equipment Specialists

Thirdly there is my favourite discovery of the day. A visiting Antique Clock Restorer from Cirencester identified AR.1991.400.333 (we have it listed as a clock) as a very interesting early Marine Chronometer. It was made by John Arnold & Son, one of the first companies to successfully produce accurate chronometers, around about 1790-1810. They were used by the British Navy, foreign Navies and even Napoleon. Ours is labelled no 86; number 12 is in the British Museum.

The front of our marine chronometer
The front of our marine chronometer, with the additional stand
The workings of the marine chronometer
The workings of the marine chronometer

Ours has been adapted (at some point) to be used as a regular clock – a stand has been added – they were originally used flat. I hope to some further research on this, as apparently there aren’t too many out there! I’d like to find out if possible, what ship it was intended for.

All in all, a successful day in the gallery!

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1 thought on “Super Saturday – a fab day in the gallery, with some exciting discoveries”

  1. Laura had a response from Royal Museums Greenwich to confirm that this is a two-day marine chronometer. They write,

    “This particular example would have been made around 1789. From what I can see in the pictures it has survived very well and is unaltered (marine chronometers were working instruments and so were frequently updated and old parts replaced with newer).
    Unfortunately this chronometer was never in Admiralty hands and so we do not have a record of its working life but for us it is exciting to find a previously unrecorded chronometer, especially an early example such as this. It is likely to have served on merchant ships, such as those operated by the East India Company.”

    Which we think is a rather nice discovery!

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