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Navigation: Theory

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0064 NVT
Held at: National Maritime Museum
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Full title: Navigation: Theory
Date(s): 15th century - 19th century
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 4 1/2ft: 137cm
Name of creator(s): Various


Administrative/Biographical history:


Scope and content/abstract:

This class contains thirty-two volumes relating to the theory of navigation, mathematics and astronomy, fifteenth to nineteenth centuries. The earliest is Italian, written between 1470 and 1529, entitled 'Ragioni Antique Spettanti all Arte del Mare et Fabriche de Vaselli', which includes entries in many hands on navigational calculations, astronomy, astrology, sailing directions for the Mediterranean and the building and fitting of galleys. Chronologically, the next volume is the 'Regimento de la Declinacion del Sol', a Spanish navigator's manual, c 1500; the next is English, containing mathematical rules for measuring height and length, 1557; then follows 'L'Arte della Navigatione', Italian, with tables and moveable dials, 1567; and the last of the sixteenth century is by a Jesuit, Francisco da Costa (1567-1604). 'Arte de Navegar', written between 1596 and 1598 and illustrated with sketches of the astrolabe and compass. There are three seventeenth-century volumes; a treatise on astronomy by Thomas Willford entitled 'A genuine description and use of the perpetual calendar', 1654, which also contains a description of measures and of 'moveable fairs' around the country; a volume containing navigational exercises, often illustrated, by William Downman, written between 1685 and 1686, with a large amount of other information, including lists of ships, drawings of flags. poems, victualling and measures; and a workbook by Edward Ward, 1698, containing execises in navigation, astronomy and mathematics. The eleven eighteenth-century volumes include a copy of Robert Wright's 'Treatise on finding longitude at sea', 1726; a volume of lecture notes on navigation and astronomy given in Naples, 1755; and a volume in Turkish by Ibrahim Haggi, ca.1800, entitled 'Marifet Nameh' ('Encyclopedia of Knowledge'), on astronomy, architecture and geography. There are twelve nineteenth-century volumes dating between 1804 and 1883, all of which contain navigational and astonomical exercises transcribed by British seamen.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Conditions governing reproduction:

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Finding aids:

Detailed catalogue online at the: National Maritime Museum website .

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Allied Materials

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Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Edited by Sarah Drewery, Sep 2011.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:

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