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SQUIRE, Jane.


A Proposal to determine our Longitude. The second edition, in English only. London: Printed for the author, and sold by S. Cope… 1743.

Price £ GBP 1600.00

8vo, 3 leaves, pp. 5–160, (3) contents, folding engraved table of “Lodgitude”. The contents leaves (signed L1 and L2) bound after p. 152, p. 153 is unnumbered and blank. Half-title with small piece missing from lower corner. Contemporary calf, green morocco label on spine, circular green morocco label in the centre of both covers with symbols in gilt within a gilt border (as in other copies in original bindings), a very nice copy.

Second edition. Jane Squire’s was one of the more unusual methods of determining longitude. “And finally, to complete our roster of nutty longitude theorists, we have Jane Squire (fl. 1731–1743)… Squire recognizes that every point on Earth corresponds to a point on the celestial sphere that is zenithal to it. She divides the globe and sky into a million lozenges, or ‘cloves’ as she calls them. Since only 3,000 stars are known, she states, there will be only one chance in 300 to find a star in one of the fields, but more stars can be discovered, and eventually there will also be glasses so that stars can be seen in the daytime. She next proposes that the zero of terrestrial longitude be drawn through Bethlehem, and that ‘astral time’ be reckoned from there, and she requires accurate tables of sunrise there in order to compare the astral time with local solar time at sea…[and] an accurate clock will be needed!” (Owen Gingerich, “Cranks and Opportunists” in Andrewes (ed.), The Quest for Longitude, pp. 146–148). The first edition appeared the year before and has the text in French and English in parallel columns. The present edition is much rarer (by the holdings in COPAC). The Proposal itself was first published in 1731 and is extremely rare (only the BL copy in ESTC). It occupies the first 16 pages here, and is followed by correspondence sent and received in the intervening years, and then (p. 61) by “The Explanation of a Proposal…”).

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