- L -
PROFILE - Kristen LARSEN was a Danish inventor who filed a patent in
1948 describing a new solution in order to take into account the
deviation of the needle. He proposed to place a single magnet
(no. 9 on the drawing) vertically instead of several on each side of
the needle (click
the image at r. to read the first lines and see
the figures - full copy available
PROFILE - J. B. Le Roy was an instrument maker (octants,
telescopes, barometers) who worked from 15 Mulcaster
Street, St. Helier, Jersey - about 100 metres from, and in sight of the
local main harbour - in the first half of the 19th century.
This compass has a turned wood bowl and press-on lid.
The bowl interior is painted white, with a black lubber
line. The exterior is painted black with decorative lateral
lines. It has a hand drawn, 64 point maritime
card dial with a brass cap. It is balanced underneath
on link for pic.
with sealing wax. The dial is signed around the perimeter of the
central brass cap "J. B. LE ROY - 15 MULCASTER ST - ST. HELIER'S -
The North Fleur de Lys marker has gold leaf covering the
central plume, and beneath can be seen the compass and dividers symbol
of Freemasonry. The East marker is decorated (see
on images for enlarged views)
- Dia. (overal with lid): 6-3/64" (155 mm)
- Card dia.: 4.133" (105 mm)
. open: 3 - 21/128"
. closed: 3 - 51/64" (95 mm)
- Weight: 528 gr
According to Hitchins and May in From
Lodestone to Gyro-Compass
(2nd edn 1955, p. 84-5), the first suggestion of a liquid-damped
compass came from a German called Ingen Housz in 1779. The earliest
example they found of one actually being tried was a liquid compass
made by Gabriel Wright of London for Capt. Sir William Chaloner Burnaby
in 1781. The earliest patent known was taken out by a watchmaker,
Francis Crow of Faversham in Kent, in 1813 (no. 3644), Source: Gloria Clifton, RGM.
also the French patent of SCHMIDT & LOYAU.
W. LUDOLPH GmbH & Co. KG (Bremerhaven) is a German
company manufacturing nautical and aeronautical compasses (see also
this latter category and Divers
). More information HERE
Examples of older compasses and sighting devices below:
dome called Kugelkompass
(c1944) which was installed on the common
binnacle system designed by the
German Navy during WWII.
courtesy Archives of the German maritime ministry (Bundesamt
für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrologie, BSH)
PROFILE - LYTH Instrumentfabriks A.B. (Aktie Bolaget) is a
Swedish company founded in
1861 by Georg
(see their website: www.lyth.se, click in dropdown menu on the item OM
OSS = about us).
See also other instruments in the section Marching Compasses.
with binnacle and semi-circular prism. Two oil lamp housings are
located on either side.
The compass is marked P. W. LYTH who was probably the founder's son.
Made probably c.1880.
- M -
G. B. Magnaghi
) was an
Italian captain who
an entirely regulated compass system with two reels made of brass on
which was wound iron wire instead of Thomson's (Kelvin's)
Pic. at right by courtesy of
Istituto Idrografico della Marina
for Compass Compensation
Description: Nautical instrument used for measuring the influence of
masses on board of ships in order to perform compass compensation
display here a system designed by C.
the catalogue Nautik
together with the various
parts like the scale for
measuring the vertical forces - in German Vertikalkraftwage
also the website Marine
Survey & Compass Adjustment
courtesy German Federal
Maritime and Hydrographic Agency
to the official website)
A part of the accessories
The scale for measuring the vertical forces
Views in the Bamberg catalogue
XIX, figs. 1-3
The scope of the accessoires
on images for
enlarged views and full description)
The scale for measuring the vertical forces
Views of compasses displayed in some maritime museums
including their description for some of them. You are kindly
invited to send pictures of individual compasses (antique if possible)
or of the display rooms of the museums you visited in any part of the
See also the comprehensive list
of maritime museums
Musée de la Marine, Paris, France
(descr. of the instrument HERE)
National de la Marine (Toulon, Fr.)
de la Marine de Brest, Fr.
de la Bourse,
Cities located in Germany:
- Maritime museums' websites of
Wilhelmshafen, Hamburg, Kiel,
(exhibit: see Hechelmann, Museum "unter der Stadtverwaltung")
- Berlin: Technikmuseum
Museu de Marinha, Lisbon, Portugal (descr. of the instrument HERE)
PROFILE - D. McGregor & Co. Ltd were
makers to the Admiralty (Glasgow, Greenock, Liverpool) throughout the
Makers of navigational instruments, and marine barometers.
See Glasgow Post Office
1868: Silver medal international Maritime exhibition at le Havre
binnacles and liquid compasses. The Polar anti-vibration compass, and
standard compass sold to 11 commercial shipping lines and the Argentine
Also dry card compasses of std pattern.
Three compass patents are known: 1875, 1880, 1893.
Also a pelorus used as a ‘compass verifier’, with
patented enameled dial.
1876: agents for Thomson compass.
For instructions for the Compass Verifier's operation click HERE
momentarily available - Thank you for helping us completing
Diarios San Cayetano (Click
on images for enlarged views)
- Dim. (diam. x height): 280 x 170mm (11" x 6.69")
- Weight: 9.5 kg (21 lbs)
Markings on the card:
- Standard Compass
- Serial No.: 3142
- Latest improved
The lower surface is made of glass.
Glasgow Post Office Directory 1888-1889
courtesy of the
Friends of the Cerberus
Profile - Antoine Marius Camille
MOREL filed together with KRAUSS
several patents for aircraft and navy compasses.
at r. : Fig. out of patent no. FR 544.937
Profile - Former French company (more information HERE
See also the categories Survey & Artillery compasses, Marching
compasses and Pocket compasses
Model designation: Opticompas SRPI
- MORIN (France). Late 20th century.
Bearing compass. Sighting is made from the side through a prism. The
capsule is protected by a soft rubber envelope with sharp angles
representing the winds. By removing a white plastic protection disk
placed under the box, one can look at a map through the transparent
capsule and read the angle values of a second dial (90° offset)
visible from above by means of a magnifying glass.
Compare with VION's model 'MINI' (survey & artillery)
on images for
- Dimensions: 90 x 90 x 40 mm.
- Weight: 170 g (210 g with protection box).
- Softrubber protection and plastic transport casing
- N -
PROFILE - British manufacturer (more information HERE
produced ship equipment. The pocket compasses
N&Z displayed on this website were generally made by other
manufacturers like Barker or Steward. The case and
telescopic gimbals were much propably supplied by Barker. These models
gimbals, you pull it out to activate the gimbals (see also Pocket
compasses / Negretti & Zambra).
- The first one was manufactured by
Barker & Son and branded by Negretti & Zambra. It
the Barker Trade Catalogues of the period.
- The second one is signed on the dial centre NEGRETTI
ZAMBRA - LONDON and marked with N&Z's logo on the clamping
ring. Brass case covered in pigskin leather with
pictures courtesy TML
- O -
PROFILE - NV Ltd
OBSERVATOR was a Dutch manufacturer located in
in 1924. The electronics activities were bought by Kelvin Hughes in
1996 (read in WIKIPEDIA:
John Lilley &
Gillie). The mechanical compass activities remained for some years in
Rotterdam. The name appears on a shop in Rotterdam (Van
der Takstraat 218, click
on the pic at right for a view of the shop
) which sells
other nautical gear the L.J.
marine charts. See also marching compass.
view of the logo
The cardinals are in Dutch: Z = Zuid (south)
Made in the 1920s/30s
- P -
(1840) was called Standard
around 1890/1900. It is the first model of
compass to be officially adopted as a service compass by the
It was first introduced on the early turbine torpedo boats of
The Pattern 24 is significant because it broke the effective monopoly
card compass had held for many years previously. The last pattern
listed we know of (160110
, link to pic
) is a
gyrocompass. For aircraft
Your help is needed. Up to now, we could not find a complete list of
all patterns with technical description, designer, manufacturer,
etc. Any suggestion as to where it could be
consulted (book, library, museum etc.) would be greatly apppreciated. Picture at
right by courtesy of the Royal Museums Greenwich. This
9-page-list comprises all
ships and aircraft compass patterns registered by the British Admiralty
since 1840 (Pattern One Standard Compass) until the mid 20th century
i.e. WWII. These instruments were formerly kept at the Admiralty
Compass Observatory (ACO). This is a view of page 2 (Patt. 24,
below) and page 7 comprising aircraft
during WWI (patt.
153 - Compass for submarines 5" verge
courtesy of Nick Godridge - Click for enlarged views)
One Standard (1840)
courtesy National Maritime Museum published in
Steady as she Goes by A.E.
Early designs by DENT and Harris
same as pic. at
- Diameter: ... mm
- Overall dim.: ... mm
Production: probably 1870
Torpedo Boat's compass
the transit case's lid
- Diameter: mm
- Overall dim.: mm
Below: The transit case
Projector type (Patt. 159 : binnacle for patt. 158)
behind the door
- Diameter of bowl: 5 1⁄8"
of card: 4 ½"
- Base: 8 ¾"
- Height: 15" with handle raised
Pattern 182 is a boat compass. It predates the 24,
but not in this form, which has the Chetwynd modified smaller diameter
- Diameter: 8" (200mm)
- Height: c.7" (180mm)
Navy Pattern 0188A
featuring a fleur de lys and a crown
courtesy J. Prior
|Pattern 189 "Faithful Freddie":
In 1921, the
famous author P.G.
WOODHOUSE wrote a humorous book called JILL THE WRECKLESS. One of the
characters in the book was called Freddie Rooke and he was one who
always guided his friends to a successful end. British naval officers
named their compass after him (courtesy of G. Dykes, RN-Ret).
Navy Pattern 195A
- N° 650 H
Breadth: 190mm / 8" - no mfr. name
Compass for submersible Sleeping
courtesy P. F. Whitehead
(Click on images for enlarged views)
(not included in the list above)
The compass rose and the aiming mechanism
The manufacturer Aeronautical & General Instruments Ltd. (AGI)
Artillery compas (1939)
Dia. rose: 7" / 180 mm
Dia. overall.: 14" / 365 mm
Marking: CONTROL TRAINING A/S 51
Function and user instruction unknown.
Thank you for helping.
Detail view of the mirrorred
The serial no. with the ending H for Hughes
|Pattern 920 - Hughes COASTER
The compass opposite face bears the indication Patt.
921 and Patt. 922 (s.
pic. at left) refers only to the
binnacle. The supplier of
Patt. 932 'Terminal Box' was L.S.E.
For more details see the list
of components of the entire system.
Lighting from the side with oil lamp
courtesy J.O. Dunoon)
for Motor Torpedo Boat (MTB)
The disc is graduated into quadrants which is very unusual if not
unique on a ship's compass.
Manufacturer: the suffix KS behind the S/N: may stand for Kelvin and a
the type featuring an electrical
lighting from below (link
pic), the S/N ends with the
letter H for Hughes.
In 1890 Lieutenant Joseph Peichl of the Austrian Navy proposed a transmitting magnetic compass
system that required fewer wires than F. Jenkin's design. A contact on
the compass card remained between two contacts in the bowl, and when it
touched either energized a follow-up motor, which drove round the bowl
until the contacts were again parted. While the bowl was rotating two
wires were supplied with current alternately and, energizing two
electro-magnets in turn, operated a repeater by a pawl-and-ratchet
Source: From Lodestone to Gyro-Compass (see menue Miscell. /
History & Bibliography)
A pelorus is not a compass but an instrument used to measure a
see relative to the ship's axis. Read a comprehensive description
in Wikipedia and see another example in the article about ASKANIA.
Below: Ancient peloruses and user instruction. For other
sighting aids go to C. PLATH (below)
for night and day
sighting. German Navy (Kriegsmarine), WWII
PROFILE - C. F. Petersen was a compass maker located
in Sankt-Pauli (Hamburg, Germany). An early
compass (late 18th c. - link
is described in A. Schück's booklet on old compasses
Hamburg's state collections (1910, see Miscell. / History &
Reverse of the disc made of cut-out commercial letters. The
magnetic bars are wrapped in paper and glued on both sides of
center of gravity. the final balancing is achieved by means of wax
The North symbol is a fleur de lys and the east cardinal (O
Ost) is also decorated (see MISCELL. / Cardinal points)
Dia.: ... mm
Material: cup and cylinder made of wood
Date: mid 19th c.
PROFILE - French company created in 1963 (more details on this
company's website www.plastimo.com)
The compass in its box
..xy (1950's ?)
The North mark looks like a simplified fleur-de-lis (three diamonds) on
top of an arrow.
Diam.: ca. 150 mm
courtesy Jaypee -
click on pictures for
Exploded view of a CONTEST compass
- C. PLATH was a German manufacturer. Activities had
begun in 1837 in a repair shop and it was officially
in 1862 by Carl Christian Plath (b. 24.12.1825 - d. 19.6.1910). His son
Theodor took over in 1908 (short history on this website
- in German language). It was located in Hamburg near the harbour in a
(link to pic., note the house marked Kompasshaus
destroyed during WWII). Products are still
sold under this label but the company's owners changed several
since 1962 (read also: Cassens
& Plath). From 1992
on, the compasses were manufactured by
& Oetting. One of their most famous
product, the sextant
as the company's logo, a seaman sighting ('shooting') a star
The original logo represented the Earth
surrounded by rays with the star shooter standing on it
logo featuring a
sun-shooter (cover of the
booklet printed in 1962 for the company's 100th anniversary).
Picture at left: Example of a patent filed in 1887 for a
compass rose with springs to compensate variations due to dampness
changes (photocopies available - Click on the images for enlarged
C. PLATH also produced many ships compasses but also small standard
artillery compasses type like our Voigtländer
signed example (engraved M.W.B. for Minen-Werfer-Bataillon
well as various compass-related tools like peloruses and other bearing
measuring aids. In the late 19th c., PLATH also developed
several light-weight compass roses with hanging
(drawing out of the book
1911) based on Thomson Lord
's design. He
tried in vain to
have it also recommended like his
in the standard
of the Deutsche
department of the Admiralty of the
German Imperial Navy in charge of compasses.
- R -
(link to pic
is the name of two compasses (types K 165 and K 120 RM)
in the Yugoslavian Navy. They are described in the 1964 manual MAGNETSKI KOMPAS
PROFILE - E. S. Ritchie is a U.S. Manufacturer. Ritchie
patented in 1862 (no. 36,422) a liquid compass system similar to Francis Crow
1813 design (GB pat. no. 3,644). Ironically, Ritchie's patent no. is
almost identical to Crow's one, if you add the last two digits (2 + 2 =
History: visit Ritchie's official website
Detail view (all the patent's figures HERE)
for enlarged view
A - Bowl
B - Glass plates
C - Pivot
D - Compass card
E - Air-tight vessel
G - Magnets
H - Conic frustrum
I - Elevator
a - Cap
y - Flange
z - Screw
typical rose of winds
PROFILE - Former compass maker located in Marseilles already active
during the 18th C. (note: the "x" is to be pronounced).
In the 19th C., his instruments
were signed Joseph
ROUX, hydrographe sur le
port, à la boussole couronnée
Jaypee - Musée de la Marine, Marseille
for enlarged view)
- Divisions : rhumbs - see CARDINALS
- S -
PROFILE - Japanese company called Nichigosan and located in Tokyo (see
this company's official website
Its products are also sold by CARAC Co. Ltd. (see pictures of a hand
bearing compass here:
Heinrich Schmidt and F. Loyau were French civil engineers, living in
Paris, 63 rue Ste Avoye. They were granted on 31st Dec. 1830 a patent
(no. 4623) for a new transparent compass with a dead beat rose "nouvelle boussole
diaphane à rosette morte
It consisted of a cylindrical casing closed at each end by a a glass
disc and containing a liquid (100% alcohol) to slow down the rose's
oscillations. The rose was made of enamelled glass.
(Click on the images for enlarged views)
Pictures © Archives INPI
Head of p. 1 - The kingdom's symbol was crossed out after France became
was a German company located in Stettin
(ships' equipment). Sckell patented a
compass rose design in 1894 (no.
to patent fig.
it was made of several curved magnets assembled to a circle. This one
though was attached to the centre cap with chains.
at r.: Views of
Sckell's rose in Schück's book
DER KOMPASS (1911).
PROFILE - Sestrel is the Trade Mark brand of Henry Browne
& Son who were
important British compass makers. This company was sold to John Lilley
& Gillie Ltd* and SIRS Navigation (both in UK) in
BROWNE & SON, Ltd was
established in (18..?) in
London. They were English
that had been making compasses,
ships clocks, inclinometers, sextants and chandlery
items for over 140 years. Their “Dead
Beat“ compass design is well dampened and
serves to reduce oscillations. It is reported that this design compass
was fitted to many Allied ships during WW II. Over the more recent
years, there has been a consolidation of British instrument makers and
the firm of Henry Browne & Son has changed hands a number of
times. At last count, it became part of Lilley &
Gillie for what may be the second time.
Another famous SESTREL product is their landing compass (example: see
Aeronautical compasses / Air Ministry, type 06). A compass type was
made especially for airships (see Aero. comp. / Sestrel).
* Read the company's story in Wikipedia.
PROFILE - This unsigned item features the same card and fleur
de lys as the compass
made by Fr. Barker during his apprenticeship at Simms'. We assume that
compass was a very early model made by this manufacturer. Several other
similar compasses are known that were made at the end of the 18th
courtesy G. Tremblay
on the pictures for enlarged views
- Diameter : 90 mm
- Height: 70 mm
- Case: 140 mm (cube)
- Weight: approx. 1 lb.
The case is made of metal but the base was cut out and replaced by a
wooden disk fixed with two screws on the side. This disk supports the
(SPERRY - gyrocompass pat. 1,279,479)
PROFILE - SISTECO
Ltd was a Finnish manufacturer. It was bought by SILVA in 1990.
SISTECO built among other instruments this bearing compass SIGHT MASTER (picture at
click to enlarge)
compass (see this category).
was a German manufacturer located in Kiel (Germany). The
maker's name also appears on the card of a BAMBERG compass.
instrument below at right was used during WW1 to compute the launch
of torpedos is called in German Angriffsscheibe
(attack course finder disc).
compass (1876 ?)
courtesy of Hist.Uet.
Pic. © M.
Florek. See also KUHLMANN.
Dimensions of case:
x 13 ¾ in. (18x32cm)
Engravings: Imperial crown above the letter M (symbol of the German Imperial Navy) and
the materiel code
PROFILE - J. H. Steward Ltd was a British
manufacturer (more information HERE
See also Marching Compasses
Pictures courtesy Jaypee - priv. coll.
on images for enlarged views
| Technical data
- Dimensions (?)
- Card design: SINGER's
pattern (northern half in black paint on mother of pearl)
go to U-BOOT
PROFILE - Finnish company (see SUUNTO's own website)
on the picture for
an enlarged view)
(compare to MORIN and WILKIE)
D. Montón Farrioli
DEFINITION - (read HERE
- T -
Special compass hung above the captain's bunk. This way he can check
the vessel's course while lying in his berth.
See also the Pocket compass dubbed here Tell-tale
just to find a
Compass Rose (U.S. Navy - WWII)
Leaflet published In 1944 by the U.S. Navy's Bureau of Naval
on the pictures for enlarged views)
Definition - The Transmitting Magnetic Compass system transmits
accurate heading information from a ship's magnetic compass to a remote
For examples read the entries E. BISSON, S. L. HOLMES, F. JENKIN and
J. PEICHL and also, in the aeronautical compasses section, Distant
Reading and PATIN's
Definition - A traverse board is a navigation tool
used in ancient times to record the information given by the
compass. In the traditional Navy (sail ships), the helmsman had to
record the ship's course indicated by the compass every full hour
(example at right) or half-hour, i.e. four or eight times. He used to
this aim an hour glass. The traverse board featured hence the
same face (rose of winds) as the compass with the cardinal
(see menu: Miscellaneous) and wind areas (16 or 32 like on the item at
The helmsman only had to place small wooden pegs into the
Further hole blocks were used to record other parameters like the speed
so as to permit computation of the ship's theoretical position (dead
reckoning) by the officer.
read the relevant entry in Wikipedia).
(click for enlarged view)
PROFILE - Compass maker located in Barcelona (Spain)
courtesy D. Montón Farrioli
(click for enlarged view)
- U -
In its catalogue (s. below), the German compass manufacturer C. BAMBERG
writes that all German WWI
were equiped with a magnetic compass installed fore in a mast
complete original text, pls. ask the curator
They don't speak
about compass gyros although this instrument was developed almost 10
years before WW1 (read Anschütz). We suppose that the magnetic
compass was only a back-up instrument. Thank you for helping if you
have more precise information.
on the images for
brochure Nautik 24
systems for submarine compasses and user instruction (full
Fig. at left (Patent, French issue no. 517,864 issued in 1919): a
portion of the compass card's rim is illuminated by a
light ray generated by a lamp and transmitted via prisms and lenses.
This image can be viewed on a mirror inside the
Via a magnetic needle
remote-controlled model submarines
Helmut Huhn and Heinrich Kistenich have developed a batch of
remote-controlled model submarines steered by means of a compass
needle. The inventors placed a cheap pocket compass' magnetic needle
inside a voltmeter's coil frame rotated by means of a remote-controlled
servo-motor to set the ship's course. The needle's rotation is limited
by two lateral stops. Located above the needle's north end, an LED
casts its shadow onto two phototransistors (s. pics below). As long as
the latters receive a differential amount of light they activate the
ship's propellers until the hull is on course and the needle exactly
between the phototransistors.
right: one of the model submarines. In the enlarged view (click on
image) f.l.t.r.: Messrs Huhn and Kistenich
The comprehensive system's (mechanical and electronical) description is
published in the booklet
978-3-8391-9617-5, ed. Books on Demand GmbH, Norderstedt, 2011, 63 p.,
15 figs and two circuit diagrams).
Note: This steering system is similar to the principle
patented 100 J. ago by C.
for aircraft (telecompass) but which was totally fotgottten since. The
two German tinkerers totally re-invented it the from scratch. The only
major difference besides the modern electronics is the remote
control (link to a view of the control
dimensions: L = 1080 mm; Ø = 195
mm; overall H & B. (fins incl.) = 350 mm; displacement: ca. 21
The needle of a cheap pocket compass inside a voltmeter's coil frame
and the conical bearings.
on the images for
enlarged views - Pictures courtesy Huhn and Kistenich
Side view of the rotating rig containing the needle inside the frame
and the wiring.
Front view of the needle's north end located between the LED (above)
and the phototransistors (below)
The electromechanical steering system located inside the submarine's
At left: the rotating rig activated by the flexible axis of a
servomotor (bottom right).
- V -
PROFILE - VIKING Navigational Instruments
(links to pics © BSH
was a trademark of the Danish company
Iver C. WEILBACH & Co. Ltd. located in Amaliegade 30,
Copenhagen. In the 1951 catalogue, the company presents itself as the the oldest compass maker in Scandinavia.
They offered compass adjustment
day (view of the workshop
). Their lead
product was a standard compass (see pic at right) (for more views of the catalogue
or full copy ask
PROFILE - Former French company (more information HERE
logo on the cover of the catalogue
for ship compasse 1959
a griffin. This catalogue also shows
two aeronautical compasses: the models
See also aeronautical compasses.
- Diameter: 103 mm
- Depth: 45 mm
- Weight (compass alone): 300 g
- Material: Bakelite
sighting vanes (pelorus function) and prism
Pictures Lydie &
(Click on images for enlarged views)
- Dia.: mm
- Height : mm
View with sight folded:
- W -
U.S. company created in 1847 in Middletown, Connecticut (logo: the
letters WC on the north mark of the rose).
For more details see Lannan Gallery
Dimensions : card Ø 75mm ; box 150 x 150 x 110mm. Made in 1898. Poids
Picture courtesy Th. Steffen.
PROFILE - Former German company (more information HERE
- Dimensions: 75 x 50 x 16 mm
- Weight: 38 gr
PROFILE - Equipment without its manufacturer's label.