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A Collection of Papers on Naval Architecture

Date: 1792
Overall: 225 x 145 x 16 mm, 213 g
Medium: Paper, ink, marbled cover, string
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Books and journals
Object Name: Book
Object No: 00046021
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    This publication 'A Collection of Papers on Naval Architecture' was published by The Society for the Improvement and Study of Naval Architecture for the proprietors of the European Magazine. The volume consists of articles (reprinted from the European Magazine) and black and white engravings. The articles discuss the state of shipbuilding and naval technology in the late 18th century, bibliographical essays on the literature of shipbuilding, as well as short articles on various aspects of ship building practice and technology.
    SignificancePre-19th century English publications on naval architecture are rare and this example offers an insight into theories and practice in the 18th century. Published by The Society for the Improvement and Study of Naval Architecture, this publication is a collection of papers on naval architecture produced by the Society for the wider reading audience of the European Magazine.
    HistoryThe European Magazine (1782 - 1826) was dedicated (according to its subtitle) to the mission of bringing to its readers 'the Literature, History, Politics, Arts, Manners, and Amusements of the Age'. Established by the journalist James Perry as the mouthpiece of the Philological Society of London, the ‘Magazine’ came under the proprietorship of the Shakespearean scholar Isaac Reed and his co-partners John Sewell and Daniel Braithwaite.

    The Magazine consisted primarily of articles and letters concerning literature, antiquarian matters, theology, science, biography, and current news, backed up by sections set aside in each monthly issue for book reviews, poetry, parliamentary reporting, theatre, and lists of births, deaths, marriages, promotions, and bankruptcies, the whole embellished with superb engravings.

    The Magazine was non-partisan though unswervingly loyal to Church, King, and Country and appealed primarily to a readership of clergymen, landed gentry, magistrates, physicians, antiquaries, and lovers of literature. It was also, according to an advertisement on the second page of this publication, instrumental in the establishment of The Society for the Improvement and Study of Naval Architecture in 1791 and responsible for the publication of the work of the Society in the pages of the Magazine and as special ‘Collections of Papers on Naval Architecture’ of which this publication is one.

    Although an old discipline, the term Naval Architecture can be traced back to at least the late 16th century describing a new approach to the design and construction of warships, organised around the use of measured, three view, architectural style drawings. The concept of Naval Architecture changed during the 17th and 18th centuries to blend the practical, artisan skills of the dockyard shipwrights with the scientific theories of gentlemen scientists such as Isaac Newton, William Sutherland, William Emerson and John Charnook.

    The Society was established in 1791 by the publisher John Sewell and Colonel Mark Beaufoy (1764-1827) a Fellow of the Royal Society, mountaineer, explorer and British Army officer with the express purpose to counteract a perceived imbalance between the naval architecture of France and Britain. The Society recruited the patronage of not only the future King William IV but also private shipyard owners, notably the Rotherhithe masters John Randall and William Wells, whose yards supplied many of the East India Company's larger vessels.

    Under Sewell and Beaufoy's leadership the Society organised a series of experiments at the Rotherhithe Docks between 1791 and 1799 testing, developing and proposing new methods of ship design, development and construction and attempted to establish a scientific regime that would bring order to British naval architecture and general dockyard business.

    The Society established a research library, published papers on ship technology and architecture through its ‘Collections of Papers on Naval Architecture’, commissioned and collected ship models for display, payed for large scale model trials in the Rotherhithe yards and agitated publicly for the foundation of a new naval architecture academy under government administration. The School of Naval Architecture was finally established in the Portsmouth naval yards in 1811. Although the Society dissolved in 1801 the work of the Society continued to be published through the pages of The European Magazine until at least 1805 with additional papers being published as late as 1835.

    This publication, the second volume, was published in 1792 and contains 1) An appendix of original letters containing various communications and observations on subjects connected with naval architecture; 2) An essay towards a general view of the literature of the art of ship building by Captain Muller; 3) Catalogue of Books on Naval Architecture; 4) An Enquiry into the cause of the Great Scarcity of Timbers through the Dominions belonging to His Majesty by Mr Yeoman Lott; 5) Improvement of Navigation by Two New-Invented Engines called a Navivium and a Naviger by Mr Joseph Gilmore and an extract from The Journal of John White regarding the use of Oil of Tar as a timber dressing.

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