Astronomical and navigational instruments, Compasses

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Boat's liquid compass and binnacle

Astronomical and navigational instruments

Object connections:

Collection Astronomical and navigational instruments, Compasses
Gallery locationNot on display

Object details:

Object ID ACO0183
Description A boat’s compass is one that is designed to be portable so that it can be carried in one of the small boats launched from a ship. Liquid compasses were often used since they proved to be more stable in the relatively unsteady environment of these small craft. This boat’s compass binnacle was patented in 1890 (patent number 8414) by J. Buckney, head of the firm of Dent & Co., and became the standard binnacle for boats’ compasses in the Royal Navy until the 1914-18 period. The design allows an oil lamp to be fitted on either side. A door in the front gives access to the space below, where there is a device for locking the bowl when the binnacle is being carried. A set of instructions is also stuck to the back of the door with the date ‘1 4 96’ handwritten on them. The liquid compass inside has a brass bowl painted black with a weighted base and a filler plug at the side. The inside of the verge is painted white with a black lubber line. The maker’s name is inscribed on the rim of the bowl along with the serial number ‘41971’. The card is made of mica with a central float and is graduated to half points.
Date made 1892

Artist/Maker Edward John Dent & Co.
Place made London
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Admiralty Compass Observatory
Materials brass; mica; wood; glass; paper; liquid
Measurements Overall: 325 mm x 265 mm x 223 mm
  • Boat's liquid compass and binnacle (ACO0183)
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