Book of the Day: Practical Navigation

Today’s post is a slight divergence from my current run of recommendations. Yesterday I collected my copy of Practical Navigation from Peartree Bindery in Norwich. The photographs show the before (below) and after (above) state of this book. It seems that the book may have taken to sea at some stage in its life because the back cover had been wet and shrunk. I find it wonderful that it is a book that has been used but also treasured enough to last as long as it has. When purchased at auction the book was in its original binding but loose with some spine loss, endpapers and some pages missing. It was in a sorry state. Binding repaired and conserved, and stored in an archival quality box, I hope it may now last another few centuries.

Thomas Bowrey had a copy of John Seller’s Practical Navigation in his library when he catalogued it in 1711. Originally published by instrument maker and King’s Hydrographer in 1669, the year Thomas arrived in India, this edition was printed in 1699 for Jeremiah Seller at Hermitage in Wapping close to where Thomas lived at the time. There is unfortunately no indication of the book’s original owner. In over three hundred years, only John Hughes clearly dated his autograph in 1759 and, later, on 1 July 1766. Other owners were Francis Robe and Elisabeth W.

As I wrote a few days ago, navigation was primitive but developing during Thomas’ life. John Seller’s Practical Navigation was an Introduction to the Whole Art. Containing The Doctrine of Plain and Spherical Triangles. Plain, Mercator, Great-Circle Sailing; and Astronomical Problems. The Use of divers Instruments; as also of the Plain-Chart, Mercator’s Chart and both Globes. Sundry Useful Tables in Navigation: And a Table of 10000 Logarithms, and of the Logarithm Sines, Tangents, and Secants.

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