The biggest obstacle to a project like this is players in any given time period are rated relative to the other players of that time period. This leads to two distortions of the mathematics that are non-trivial to compensate for:
1) Outliers. Given a particular player who is very far above his contemporaries, it's difficult to assign an accurate rating. Paul Morphy was winning constantly, and so it's hard to know just how far above his contemporaries to position him, to name one example. If a player were to lose 2 games in thirty, for example, it's not possible to know with any degree of certainty that if the number were increased to 60 he would lose 4. We can guess, but that's all we can do.
2) Size of the player pool. If we assume player skill to follow a normal distribution, then the distance between extremes will be wider given a larger pool. This doesn't indicate that a player at the extreme of a smaller pool is any less skilled than a player at the extreme of a larger pool, though the number assigned will be higher for the larger pool.
I doubt the question will ever permit itself to be solved mathematically, leaving us all plenty of room to argue for decades to come.