Deck officer’s navigational ciphering book. Silas Elden.
Deck officer’s navigational ciphering book.
Deck officer’s navigational ciphering book.
Deck officer’s navigational ciphering book.
Deck officer’s navigational ciphering book.

Deck officer’s navigational ciphering book.

Circa 1830. Unbound. This manuscript lesson book contains 45 pages of navigational problems, one hand-drawn map (“A Chart from England to the Cape de Verde Islands”), and two illustrations (one of a sailing vessel and one of a Hadley Quadrant). The pages are in nice shape and soundly bound together, however they have separated from their heavy paper cover.

The book was kept by Silas Elden, who was born in Buxton, Maine, in 1812, probably while serving as a deck officer apprentice or possibly a third mate on a commercial vessel. The lessons cover general navigation, Middle Lattitude (sic) Sailing, Mercator Sailing, Navigation by Projection, by Construction, by Inspection, by Calculation, by Gunter, by Travis Sailing, the use of the Hadley Quadrant, and finally “A New Method of finding the Latt. at Sea.”

The cover is worn with considerable name-doodling by Silas. Silas has added his brothers’ names to the rear cover. Very good. Item #008647

Silas was born into a Saco River farming family whose home and lands were near Salmon Falls. Census records through 1850 show his occupation as “Sailor,” however subsequent records indicate that he returned home to stay after inheriting the family farm following his father’s death. The Elden family home still exists and has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Apparently a fairly scarce genre of ciphering book for as of 2018, no similar books are in the trade, none are listed at OCLC, and there are no auction records at ABPC or the Rare Book Hub.

Price: $1,500.00

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