Gadgetry v1.3

A functional and fictional device.

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W.F.R., 1899. “A trial recently took place at Bristol (as reported in the Bristol Times and Mirror of 10 June) for damage done to a ‘gadget.’ The word does not occur in Halliwell, Smyth’s ‘Sailor’s Word-Book,’ or the ‘H.E.D.’ It evidently is the name of some kind of boat, which in the present case was used for the discharge of vessels in the harbour. Can any correspondent kindly give an exact definition, and also suggest its history and probable derivation? Is it local, or an importaiton, or a new coinage?”

Bullen, Frank T., 1899. “…for on taking the wheel I found a machine under my hands such as I never even heard of before. The wheel was fixed upon the tiller in such a manner that the whole concern travelled backwards and forwards across the deck in the maddest kind of way. […] I fairly shook with apprehension lest the mate should come and look in the compass. I had been accustomed to hard words if I did not steer within half a point each way; but here was a ‘gadget’ that worked me to death, the result a wake like the letter S. Gradually I got the hang of the thing, becoming easier in my mind on my own account. Even that was not an unmixed blessing, for I had now some leisure to listen to the goings-on around the deck.”