1902 Encyclopedia > Anchor > Anchor - Definition. Anchors in the Ancient World. Modern Anchors.

(Part 1)


Anchor - Definition. Anchors in the Ancient. Modern Anchors.

Anchor - Definition

Anchor, in Navigation, from the Greek angkura , which Vossius thinks is from ongke, or a crook or hook, an instrument of iron or other heavy material used for holding ships in any situation in which they may be required to lie, and preventing them from drifting by the winds or tides, by the currents of rivers, or any other cause. This is done by the anchor, after it is let down from the ship by means of the cable, fixing itself into the ground, and there holding the vessel fast. The anchor is thus obviously an implement of the first importance in navigation, and one on which too much attention cannot be bestowed in its manufacture and proper construction, seeing that on its way depends the safety of the vessel in storms.

Anchors in the Ancient World (Antiquity of Anchors)

The invention of so necessary an instrument is to be preferred, as may be supposed, to the remotest antiquity. The most ancient anchors consisted merely of large stones, baskets full of stones, sacks filled with sand, or log of wood loaded with lead. Of this kind where the anchors of the ancient Greeks, which, according to Apollonious Rhodius and Stephen of Byzantium, were formed of stone; and Athenaeus states that they were sometimes made of wood.

These sorts of anchors retained the vessel merely by their inertia, and by the friction along the bottom. Iron was afterwards introduced for the construction of anchors, and also the grand improvement of forming them with teeth or flukes to fasten themselves into the bottom; whence the words odontes [Gk.] and dentes [Lat.] are frequently taken for anchors in the Greek and Latin poets.

The invention of the teeth is ascribed by Pliny to the Tuscans; but Pausanias gives the merit to Midas, king of Phrygia. Originally there was only one fluke or tooth, whence anchors were called heterostomoi [Gk.]; but shortly afterwards the second was added, according to Pliny, by Eupalamus, or, according to Strabo, by Anacharsis, the Scythian philosopher.

The anchors with two teeth were called amphiboloi [Gk.] or amphistomoi [Gk.], and from ancient monuments appear to have ben much the same with thse used in our days, except that the stock is wanting in them all. Every ship had several anchors, the largest of which , corresponding to our sheet-anchor, was never used but in extreme danger, and was hence peculiarly termed hiera [Gk.] or sacra [Lat.]; whence the proverb sacram anchoram solvere, as flying to the last refuge.

Modern Anchors

Up to the commencement of the present century [19th Century] what was termed the "old plan long-shanked" anchor seems to have ben generally used. It was made of wrought iron, but the appliances of the anchor smith were so crude that little dependence could be placed upon it.

About this time public attention was drawn to the importance of the anchor by a clerk of Plymouth yard named Pering, who published a book, and argued, from the number of broken anchors which came to the yard for repair, that there "must be something wrong in the workmanship -- undue proportion or the manner of combining the parts." Mr Pering altered the sectional form, made the arms curved instead of straight, used iron of better quality, and introduced improvements in the process of manufacture.

Since 1820 about 130 patents have ben taken out for anchors; and the attention thus given to the subject, with the introduction of steam hammers and furnances, the substitution of the fan blast for the old bellows, and the better knowledge obtained of the forgeman's art, have rendered the anchor of the present day so far superior to that of fifty years ago, that we rarely hear of one being broken, the ground in which it is embedded gnerally giving way before the anchor.

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