Unsigned Colonial Era Compass – Copper Compass Face & Dovetail Sight Vanes

Unsigned Colonial Era Compass – Copper Compass Face & Dovetail Sight Vanes

$1100

This is a fascinating compass. The colonial era compass is an odd blend or primitive craftsmanship with some sophisticated design details.

Circa

Colonial Era pre-1800

Maker

Unknown

Country of manufacture

North America

Categories: Surveying Instruments & Mining, Engineering antiques

Description

This is a fascinating compass. The compass is an odd blend or primitive craftsmanship with some sophisticated design details. On the primitive side, there is very little engraving and the numbers appear to be punched rather than engraved. Additionally, there is no needle lifter, and the sight vanes appear misaligned slightly to my eye. Hard to tell though.  

 

The sophisticated design features include cool dovetail sight vane holders, with a hefty screw holding each vane in place. This solved the somewhat common problem of sight vanes falling off of the dovetail holders over time. And the glass cover has a very nice lock down system – similar to that found on the Storrs compass I have for sale. Note that the lockdown system is somewhat misaligned as well however. Finally, the screws are individually marked for each location – see the pic below showing the screws and the associated marks.

 

And then there is the compass face made out of copper. This is the only copper compass face that I have seen, and some other long-term collectors haven’t seen anything like this compass either.

 

Why use copper?? Cheaper than brass?? Or was the maker testing a non-reflective surface to avoid the sun’s glare that plagued silver face compasses? Recall that William J Young patented an approach where he made brown-faced compasses specifically to overcome the glare problem.

 

The compass is 12 inches long with a 4 5/8 inch needle.

 

All things considered, this is a fascinating early compass.

 

360 Degree Spinner View – with Zoom Option

(Zoom with your mouse scroll wheel or with the magnifying glass in the spinner menu bar. Unzoom to regain control of the 360 degree spinner).

 

If you would enjoy learning more about early American Compasses, please see my webpages relating to Collecting Colonial and Early American Compasses.

 

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
Sending

Dealer information

US The Compleat Surveyor

The Compleat Surveyor specializes in rare instruments and books related to land surveying. This initially was a family business - my father (F. D. Uzes) was a noted surveyor, collector and author (Illustrated Price Guide To Antique Surveying Instruments and Books - published in 1980). Having spent a lifetime surrounded by old instruments and books, I now run the business myself. I use my website (www.CompleatSurveyor.com) to both sell instruments and provide historical information related to land surveying.

Shipping information
Payment methods
Terms & conditions