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Signals: Theory

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0064 SIG/D
Held at: National Maritime Museum
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Full title: Signals: Theory
Date(s): 1787-1822
Level of description: Subfonds
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Extent: 7 vols
Name of creator(s):


Administrative/Biographical history:


Scope and content/abstract:

Signals: Theory. Most of the seven volumes in this category are printed and are either annotated or designed for annotation; they are concerned with naval signalling, telegraphic and merchant shipping codes, 1787 to 1822. The earliest volume is by Captain (later Admiral) Phillip Patton (1739-1815); in 1787 he published 'A system of signals combining the method commonly used in theBritish Navy...with a numerary method'. As far as is known this was never used, since preference was given to the code invented by Lord Howe. Patton employed two methods: one was the old idea of the meaning of the flag being governed by the position of the hoist and the other gave each flag a fixed numerical value. A new arrangement of Howe's day and night signals and instructions was made in 1792 by John McArthur (1755-1840), while secretary to Lord Hood, and printed in 1793. McArthur also published a comprehensive plan in c 1804, entitled 'Thoughts on several plans combining a system of Universal Signals by day and night', of which there is also a copy. There is a lithographed copy, made in 1822, of 'Practical Rules for making Telegraphic Signals with a description of the two-armed telegraph invented in 1804' by Lieutenant-Colonel Pasley (1780-1861); he put forward a system of sending messages by land using a pole with two moveable arms. A similar manuscript of ca.1820 is by Lieutenant (later Commander) Poynter Crane (1782-1879).

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Finding aids:

Detailed catalogue online at the: National Maritime Museum website .

Archival Information

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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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