The Sailor’s Horn-Book for the Law of Storms: a practical exposition of the theory of the law of storms, and its uses to mariners of all classes in all parts of the world, shewn by transparent storm cards and useful lessons. The second edition, with additions.

London: Published by Smith, Elder and Co… 1851

8vo, pp. xxiv, 360, 1 folding barometrical chart (torn without loss and repaired from behind), 4 folding charts of different oceans with 3 leaves of references (one folded), and 2 transparent storm cards in pockets on the front and rear endpapers. Original brown cloth, faded, rubbed and worn on the tips of corners and fore-edge, endpapers dust-soiled but the text clean. Presentation copy, inscribed by the author: “ Rear Admiral Austen C.B. etc etc with the Author’s respectful Comp[limen]ts”.

Second edition. “Piddington's most abiding contribution, however, was to the understanding of maritime meteorology, and to the appreciation of tropical cyclones as a natural hazard of titanic impact on land. In 1839 he began research on the hurricane which occurred in the Bay of Bengal on 3–5 June that year, the first in a series of influential memoirs on the storms of the Indian seas. Inspired by the publication of Colonel William Reid's Attempt to Develop the Law of Storms (1838), Piddington's research was based on logs, data, and information from ships' captains, interpreted in the light of his own maritime experience. This work came to the attention of the government of India, which on 11 September 1839 invited observations of extreme meteorological phenomena; these would be sent to Piddington for his collation. Piddington also corresponded with R. W. Redfield, who was actively investigating the formation of storms in and around North America. “The result was The Horn-Book for the Law of Storms for the Indian and China Seas (1844). Written in terms seamen could understand…the book was immediately adopted by mariners and the shipping world generally. An expanded edition, entitled The Sailor's Horn-Book for the Law of Storms—the work for which he is now chiefly remembered—was published in 1848. In it Piddington introduced the term 'cyclone', derived from a Greek word meaning coiled like a snake, to emphasize the helical character of cyclonic air movements… The traditional character of a hornbook was maintained by placing within the dust jacket thin plates of translucent horn, each engraved with the diagram of a cyclone and the points of a compass. When one of these plates of horn was placed on the ship's chart, a comparison of the existing wind direction with the diagram indicated the source of an approaching cyclone, and allowed the vessel to take an avoiding course… The Sailor's Horn-Book ran to six editions and was recognized as the standard book on the subject for thirty years” (ODNB). Shaw, Manual of meteorology, pp. 293 and 297–298.


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