Stock Number: 2406X


Design Drawings & Specifications of Ships’ Navigational Equipment, Heath & Co



Country of manufacture

UK and Ireland

Categories: Bookshop, Maritime, Maritime Books, Binnacles


Eighty full-page master-plan drawings and written ‘particulars’ for the main navigational device used on all modern ships – the Titanic had four of them – the binnacle. This manuscript was drawn and maintained, and returned under duress to the company for which it was made when the engineer retired. The author, F. Whiggin was a life-long employee of Heath and Company, then leading manufacturers of navigational equipment in London.

The binnacle is the housing for a ship’s compass, elaborately engineered to counter the magnetic deviation caused by the ship being made of iron. Most binnacles were made of brass and they are avidly collected today for their beauty and ingenuity of construction. This set of masterplans was executed by ‘F Whiggin’ who left the firm in 1919 – understandably it was seen by Heath and Co as containing significant intellectual property and they demanded its return – and ensured its survival in the firm’s museum.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Folio-sized volume (33x22cm) which has been rebound in recent decades in half crushed crimson morocco over black buckram-covered boards with gilt spine lettering. New endpapers but to the rear an original thick endpaper has been bound in. Laid in is an inscribed note from the book’s maker which reads ‘F Whiggin 1913 Presented to Heath & Co Ltd by the above on demand after 45 years service Oct 24 1919’.

Whiggin executed 80 drawings in green ink and pencil shading, spread across 200 pages with each drawing accompanied by technical particulars and notes, sometimes with later commentary in coloured inks referencing wear and tear or repairs made. There is a single pasteover correction and just one blueprint close to the end for the ‘Harri Compass Centre’ from 1920.

Many of the models shown were made under Heath’s own Hezzanith trademark as well as bespoke binnacles for Light Ships – ‘Light House Binnacle’; binnacles supplied to Hutchinson Compasses, Massachusetts; Winters Model I for G M J Winter of Amsterdam; Pelorus Taxi; Ainsley Models for T L Ainsley, Mill Dam, South Shields; ‘Spanish Battleship Binnacle Model I’ and a binnacle for Lundy of Grimsby. To the rear of the volume is an ‘Index of Drawings and Particulars’, an alphabetical index and a list of Foundry Castings, followed by a final group of additional drawings of details.

HISTORY George Heath founded his Navigational Instruments company in 1845, moving the business to Eltham around the time of the creation of this volume in 1916 in order to increase wartime production. Subsequently the company was acquired by W F Stanley Mathematical and Navigational in 1926 – when they ceased trading in the 1990s Bonhams dispersed the contents of their ‘Boardroom Museum’ in 1999, presumably including this volume. (A photocopy of this sale particulars are laid in.)

Ask the Dealer

Item enquiry

To enquire about this item, complete the form bellow to send a message to the Dealer

Enter Email
Confirm Email

Dealer information

GB Fleaglass-Commission-Sale

In addition to displaying the stock of all the dealers listed below, Fleaglass also sells selected antiques on behalf of collectors and other private individuals. Every item is carefully examined for authenticity and condition, and only items meeting our high standards are accepted. All commission items are offered with a money-back guarantee. Please click on the image on the left to see the current items.