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BERTHOUD, Ferdinand

Traité des Horloges marines, contenant la théorie, la construction, la main-d'œuvre de ces machines et la manière de les éprouver, pour parvenir, par leur moyen, à la rectification de Cartes Marines, et à la détermination des longitudes en Mer

Paris, Chez Musier fils, 1773



4to (252 x 195mm)

COLLATION : a-e4, A-Z4, 2A-Z4, 3A-Z4, 4A-D4, ,4E2, 1 f. of approval and privilege of the king, 1 f. bl.

ILLUSTRATION : 1 vignette engraved by Choffard on the title page, 1 vignette engraved after Cochin on the dedication page to Louis XV, 27 folding plates engraved after Goussier

CONTEMPORARY BINDING. Red morocco with the arms of Abbot Terray, triple gilt border, gilt spine with raised bands with gilt title, gilt edges, gilt inner dentelle

PROVENANCE : copies with the arms of Abbot Terray

Ferdinand Berthoud (1727-1807) was the only watchmaker of his time to publish the fruits of his research in full. He even wrote the article Horlogerie in 1759 for the Encyclopédie of Diderot and d’Alembert. Four years later in 1763, he was appointed by Louis XV to go to London to observe the H4 marine chronometer invented by John Harrison (1693-1776). The English mechanic refused to show him his invention, but Berthoud found his way into the cenacle of British scientists and was elected a “foreign associate member” of the Royal Society.

Ferdinand Berthoud succeeded in designing marine clocks as precise as those of Harrison and was appointed Horloger Mécanicien du Roi et de la Marine in 1770. For this purpose, he received a royal order of twenty marine clocks intended to be embarked on exploration and cartographic campaigns, including the unfortunate one of Mr. de La Pérouse which left in 1785.

Abbot Terray (1715-1778), the third member of the “Triumvirate” with Maupeou and d’Aiguillon which took power after the disgrace of Choiseul, was Secretary of State of the Navy in 1770 and 1771. After this short interim, he was appointed Comptroller General of Finances and at his arrival, found the finances of the Crown in a dramatic situation. He undertook bold tax reforms and strove to correct tax inequity. After having restored the royal finances in less than three years and in a spectacular way, he was appointed Director General of the King’s Buildings and in this capacity, laid the first stones of the Hôtel des Monnaies in Paris and the Grand Theater of Bordeaux.

The diploma of Watchmaker Mechanic to the King and the Navy that the predecessor of Abbot Terray conferred on Ferdinand Berthoud came with an annual pension of three thousand livres. This amount was not affected by the series of judgments of the Council of 1770 on the reduction by 15 to 30% of pensions superior to 600 livres, proof that the economist Terray held the work of Ferdinand Berthoud in high value. Thus, the two characters merge in their quest for economic and mechanical exactitude.

BIBLIOGRAPHY : Olivier-Hermal-de Roton, Manuel de l’amateur de reliures armoriées françaises, pl. 553, fer I -- Charles-Pierre de Fleurieu, Voyage fait par ordre du roi, pour éprouver les horloges marines, p. 313