Treatise on Marine and Naval Architecture, or, Theory and Practice blended in Ship Building. John Willis GRIFFITHS.

Treatise on Marine and Naval Architecture, or, Theory and Practice blended in Ship Building.

Lithographed frontis., 45 black & white plates, and two printed tables. 420, ii pp. Large 4to, orig. cloth (extremities with very minor wear, some foxing due to the quality of the paper). New York: D. Appleton, 1852.

“Third edition” of the first great American book on naval architecture (1st ed.: 1849). Griffiths (1809-82), was one of the earliest outstanding naval architects in America and, during the early 1850s, his steamships were the fastest and finest in the world.

“Through his writings Griffiths did more than any one else to put shipbuilding in America on a scientific basis, in place of the ‘rule of thumb’ methods then in vogue. He was not only an influential theorist, however, but a practical designer of ships as well, and one of the first in the United States outside of naval constructors like Joshua Humphreys, to specialize in designing. Most of his contemporaries, like Donald McKay, Samuel Hall, and Jacob Bell, owned shipyards and actually built the ships they designed...Griffiths, however, with his particular inventive genius and bold originality, was content to draw the plans and let others execute them. He showed amazing versatility in that period of constant innovation, designing outstanding vessels of many sorts — sail and steam, wood and iron, war and commerce. Though the Ann McKim, built at Baltimore in 1832, is often called the pioneer clipper, Griffiths is credited with designing the first ‘extreme clipper ship,’ the Rainbow, 750 tons, launched in 1845 for the China trade...To secure increased speed by reducing resistance, he gave these ships slender bows and sterns rising high above the water, concave bow waterlines and ‘the greatest breadth at a point considerably further aft than had hitherto been considered practicable’ (Clark, post, p. 65). Conservative skeptics attacked these innovations, questioning the safety of such sharp, slender ships, but they proved to be the fastest afloat and strongly influenced the subsequent development of the American clipper. Griffiths then turned to steamships, where again his influence was important...His writings and the success of his ships brought him orders from all parts of the world.”–D.A.B., IV, pp. 626-27.

This book is very attractively illustrated with forty-five striking black & white plates, depicting various parts of ships and matters of design.

A fresh copy of a book which does not survive well. Surprisingly rare. There is essentially no difference between the first, second, and third editions.

❧ Hindle, Technology in Early America, p. 55–“Just after mid-century a remarkable work appeared which was filled with insights not obtainable elsewhere: John W. Griffiths’ Treatise…This large undertaking is based on the belief that European treatises did not help much in the United States, because of different terms in use, because they were not fundamentally intended for merchant shipbuilding, and because they were not sufficiently adapted to the knowledge and talents of the operative mechanics. The result is very helpful to the historian.”.

Price: $2,250.00

Item ID: 1624

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