$350 USD (300 GBP)

A good, large brass Mariner's pocket compass-18th century with two paper dials/compass roses


3 3/8 x 3/4 inches ( 8 x 2 cm)





Country of manufacture

UK and Ireland

Categories: Navigational instruments, Calculating, Surveying Instruments & Mining, Engineering antiques, Office Antiques


A good all brass Mariner’s pocket compass with paper dials indicating date of the late 18th century. 

Measuring 3 3/8 inches in diameter, the machining is very fine and early, as are the paper compass roses. The compass itself has a paper dial divided into 32 cardinal points of navigation with East and West spelled with an “f” for “s” and the degree circle in four 90 degree quadrants subdivided into one degree increments. The steel needle still points North.

The paper  in the LID with the identical center rose/plumed N, indicates date of manufacture by the fact that the cardinal points  are now using the widely accepted directions i.e. SSW instead of S by SW as seen on the MAIN dial and the cardinal point divisions reduced to 16 (half). Consequently this compass was manufactured on the cusp of the 19th century incorporating the old and new  divisions of navigation. Hard to pinpoint an exact date (1790?) because it is unsigned but the machining of the brass is extremely fine with early roping (knurling of the brass work). The number of threads to screw on the lid is a bit of overkill in itself (7 or 8). The case shows few signs of abuse (no dents) but the early glass (bevelled ?? held in place using tinted plaster??) has been lost. The ledge for the glass is only 1 mm., so it is hard to believe that it ever had a retaining ring. 

All in all, a spectacular survivor of 18th century navigation with only a small number of paper losses due to needle rubbing (near E on the lid).

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CA ScientificaOpticae

Scientifica Opticae

Mark Hacking (Scientifica Opticae Inc.) has been an avid collector/dealer for over 30 years. A former Science teacher, he has an innate love for anything natural or mechanical. Specializing in optical (microscopes, telescopes), surveying, medical, weighing and drawing instruments, he is an active participant of the Scientific Instrument Fair in London. Living in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, with his wife and two children; Mark looks forward to meeting as many fellow collectors as possible, and has a worldwide following on eBay (Sciopti).

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