Taffrail Log, John Bliss & Co., New York. Bronze, Brass and pig metal. A rare example that measures in statute miles as against nautical knots. Manufactured in the early 1880's, serial number 304. The top of the enameled face states "JOHN BLISS & CO., TAFFRAIL LOG, NEW YORK, U.S.A.".
CONDITION: The top of the window frame is broken off and missing as well as the glass window cover. The rotor turns freely, but not sure if the dials are working. Engraved "69" below the counters and patent # 304 on the bottom. The side window panels are engraved "BLISS, NEW YORK. U.S.A." on one side and "BLISS TAFFRAIL LOG" on the other.
HISTORY: (From the Smithsonian Museum) John Bliss (1795-1857) was born in Connecticut, trained as a silversmith and clockmaker in Vermont, and began in business as a jeweler in New York around 1830. In 1834, now trading as Bliss & Creighton, he made and marketed chronometers and other items for navigational use. The firm became John Bliss & Son in 1855 and John Bliss & Co. in 1857. It remained in business until 1957. Truman Hotchkiss, a sea captain from Stratford, Connecticut, designed a mechanical log in which the recording mechanism was placed on taffrail (or upper part of the stern) of the ship. After acquiring the rights to Hotchkiss’s patents of 1864 and 1867, John Bliss & Co. began advertising the "American Patent Taffrail Log." The firm also offered mechanical logs based on patents granted to John Bliss, Jr., and his brother George, as well as English instruments based on Massey’s and Walker’s patents. John Bliss & Co. boasted in 1895 that they had sold over 10,000 instruments of this sort, and that they had proven "a most unqualified success as to DURABILITY and ACCURACY." This example was probably made after 1902, after the expiration of the last of Bliss’s patents. The three dials of the register read tenths of a mile, ten miles, and 100 miles.
*Another exact example for sale suggests that it was possibly made for use on the Great Lakes, but we do not know whether this is fact or just an educated guess. Here's the link- https://www.nautical-bygones.co.uk/store/rare-antique-john-bliss-american-ship-taffrail-log