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Day 7 of ‘Looking for the Longitude’: ‘obsessed with longitude’

  • 21 June 2016

Location: Exchange Alley

Unknown, The Bubblers Medley, 1721, hand coloured engraving,34.2 x 25.1cm,

British Museum, The Bubblers Medley, Unknown, The Bubblers Medley, 1721, hand coloured engraving,34.2 x 25.1cm,

The subject of Day 6, William Whiston, exemplified the contemporary mathematicians and inventors who became obsessed with longitude. He became a “projector”, throwing time and money at increasingly outlandish ideas for solving the problem, in the hope of the fame and fortune offered by the “great reward”. Longitude became analogous to the types of political, religious, and scientific projects satirized in a series of prints dealing with the infamous South Sea Bubble crisis of 1720-1. This one deploys the striking format of a medley print to warn against the perils of drowning in speculative projects.

Read day 7 by expert Mark Hallett, Paul Mellon Centre, on medley prints