Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Catalog Data

Charles Frodsham  Search this
Physical Description:
brass (overall material)
glass (overall material)
steel (overall material)
bezel - from catalog card: 4 3/16 in; 10.668 cm
backplate - from catalog card: 2 3/16 in; 5.588 cm
overall: 2 3/4 in x 4 1/4 in; 6.985 cm x 10.795 cm
Object Name:
box chronometer, without case
Other Terms:
box chronometer, without case; chronometer, marine; Mechanical, Spring-Driven
Place made:
United Kingdom: England, London
Date made:
1838 - 1843
This instrument is a specialized timekeeper designed for finding longitude at sea. Its form is that of the standardized 19th-century marine chronometer. It was transferred to the Smithsonian from the U.S. Navy’s Bureau of Ships. The chronometer’s finisher, the firm of Charles Frodsham, traded in high-quality chronometers, clocks and watches. Frodsham (1810-71), was the son of William James Frodsham, co-founder of Parkinson & Frodsham. The younger Frodsham’s firm underwent many name and address changes, but continued in business from roughly 1837 until it became a subsidiary of Devon Instruments in 1977.
Mechanism details:
Escapement: Earnshaw, spring detent
Duration: 56-hour
Power source: Spring drive with chain and fusee
Balance spring: helical, blued steel
Key missing
Bowl details:
Brass bowl, fitted with a sprung cylindrical inner bowl as a dust cover (original work)
Brass fittings for gimbal, gimbal missing
Bezel screwed and milled
Crystal flat, small unpolished chamfer
Dial details:
Engraved and silvered brass
Indicates hours, minutes, seconds, winding level up and down
Hands: blued steel, fleur-de-lys
Inscription: "CHARLES FRODSHAM / 7 Pavement Finsbury Squr, / London No.1909”
1. Gould, Rupert T. <i>The Marine Chronometer.</i> London: Holland Press, 1960.
2. Mercer, Tony. <i>Chronometer Makers of the World.</i> Essex: NAG Press, 1991.
3. Mercer, R. Vaudry. <i>The Frodshams. The Story of a Family of Chronometer Makers.</i> London: Antiquarian Horological Society monograph 21, 1981.
4. Whitney, Marvin E. <i>The Ship's Chronometer.</i> Cincinnati: American Watchmakers Institute Press, 1985.
Currently not on view
Credit Line:
Department of the Navy. Bureau of Ships
ID Number:
Catalog number:
Accession number:
See more items in:
Work and Industry: Mechanisms
Time and Navigation
Measuring & Mapping
Data Source:
National Museum of American History