Nautical Antiques & Marine Art at Land and Sea Collection™ Dive Helmets, Ship Models, Sextants

Threaded Compass Display 1876 Design Museum Quality

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To view our current inventory of antique dry card compasses, click here!

1st Ships Threaded Compass Display Museum Quality

 

This fine Instrument Has Been Sold.
Thank you!

1st SHIPS THREADED COMPASS
From the design of 1876

Lord Kelvin & James White
Later KELVIN, BOTTOMLEY & BARD

View of
                           Threaded Compass Display image

Guaranteed  Museum Quality

This is a very rare piece of maritime history with a pedigreed heritage of historic men and companies. Suitable for a Prestige Gift

 

PRESENTED IS AN EXTREMELY IMPORTANT ENGLISH DRY CARD COMPASS made by Sir William Thomson and James White, his long time partner, whose laboratory executed many of his designs and inventions. Thomson later became Lord Kelvin of Largs. This rare compass is an example of the design which was introduced in 1876, and is in remarkable original condition, complete in all respects. James White was Kelvin's original partner from the time he began his first experiments with the magnetic compass which made him famous.  In 1913, Kelvin & James White Ltd became Kelvin Bottomley & Baird Ltd, a name under which they operated until 1947.See the history below. This example is mounted in a contemporary custom made Cherry display stand.
 
The huge compass is housed in a large bronze bowl with bronze bezel, brass banded upper structure and crystal glass lower section which is inscribed with the name Kelvin & James White Patent over Registered.  The patent referred to was issued in 1876 and updated in 1889. We were privileged to sell the patent application of that year and the accompanying model in 2010. Ref. http://landandseacollection.com/id591.html

Inscribed
                           Kelvin & James White image

Few of these threaded compasses have survived, and the later versions with the mechanical bellows are the ones most seen. They where quickly made obsolete when World War One loomed on the horizon. The design of this compass of Kelvin, Bottomley & Bard dates back to about 1903, and was likely made prior to the amalgamation and well before Kelvin- Hughes was formally merged into Henry Hughes & Sons in 1947, and much later into Smith Industries. (See company's history below)

This compass is a larger version of the one that was from the Clipper Ship Flying Cloud that was offered at auction by Bonham's Nautical Auction in 2004 for $8000.00

 

 


Threaded
                           compass card image


THE CARD:
The card is made from paper, beautifully engraved with an elaborate Fleur des Lis at the North point with the number 958 on its side. The paper is cut, approximately every 20 degrees to allow for it to be suspended from the center pivot point by silk threads which are attached to six magnetized needles.

The compass rose shows the eight cardinal points and is further divided to 1/16 points and then to 32. On the outer perimeter are degrees that are graduated from 0 to 90 degrees for each quadrant. It measures 10 inches in diameter and has a finely made brass center cap.
This complex arrangement was supposed to reduce drag and make the compass less sensitive to the pitching, rolling and course variations of a ship.

 

Threaded
                           compass display, front view image



There is a lubber's line with arrow that marks the course to which the ship's head is pointing.
There is a bronze bezel with two holders that accept the pinions of the compass bowl and serve as the means of attaching it to the display stand. There is no box with this compass.

CONDITION:
The compass card, bowl, and bezel are in superb working condition and all of the threads are intact. All the paper is in place and the imprints are sharp and distinct. The frosted glass bowl is partially full of oil which acts as balast to keep the compass level. Overall it is in extra fine condition and of museum quality. It is suitable for a prestige gift.

DIMENSIONS:
Diameter of bowl 11 1/4" Diameter of card 10"
Depth of bowl 7"

BASE: 14 1/2 L x 11 1/4 W x 3/4 T Weight complete 18.5 Lbs

North point of threaded
                           compass display image
Fleur des Lis North pointer and card size
Showing
View showing gimbals and the side of the stand

This important compass should appeal to a collector seeking only the most unusual and best for a world class collection.

BRIEF HISTORY OF INVENTOR: William Thomson (1824-1907), Lord Kelvin of Largs

William Thomson was a mathematical physicist, engineer in the physical sciences of the 19th century. He did work in the mathematical analysis of electricity and thermodynamics, and did much to unify the emerging discipline of physics in its modern form. He is widely known for developing the Kelvin scale of absolute temperature measurement. In 1892, the title Baron Kelvin was given in honour of his achievements, and named after the River Kelvin, which flowed past his university in Glasgow, Scotland.

He also enjoyed a second career as a telegraph engineer and inventor, a career that propelled him into the public eye and ensured his wealth, and, fame and is widely known in the marine industry for his work on the magnetic compass.

MARINE ACCOMPLISHMENTS & COMPANY HISTORY: Thomson was an enthusiastic yachtsman, his interest in all things relating to the sea.

Thomson introduced a method of deep-sea sounding, in which a steel piano wire replaces the ordinary land line. The wire glides so easily to the bottom that "flying soundings" can be taken while the ship is going at full speed. A pressure gauge to register the depth of the sinker was added by Thomson.

About the same time he revived the Sumner method of finding a ship's place at sea, and calculated a set of tables for its ready application. He also developed a tide predicting machine.

During the late 1870's, Thomson worked to perfect the adjustable compass in order to correct errors arising from magnetic deviation owing to the increasing use of iron in naval architecture. Thomson's design was a great improvement on the older instruments, being steadier and less hampered by friction, the deviation due to the ship's own magnetism being corrected by movable masses of iron at the binnacle. Thomson's innovations involved much detailed work to develop principles already identified by George Biddell Airy and others but contributed little in terms of novel physical thinking. His energetic lobbying and networking proved effective in gaining acceptance of his instrument by The Admiralty.

The origins of this compass lie in the highly successful, but informal, relationship between William Thomson (1824-1907), Professor of Natural Philosophy at Glasgow University from 1846-1899 and James White, a Glasgow optical maker. James White (1824-1884) founded the firm of his name, in Glasgow in 1850. White was involved in supplying and repairing apparatus for Thomson's university laboratory and working with him on experimental models. Thompson had a long association with James White.

From 1876, White was producing compasses for metal ships to Thomson's design. White was also involved in the production of Thomson's other designs for laying cables at sea. White's association with Thomson continued until he died, and their company continued as Kelvin-White.

In 1884 Kelvin raised most of the capital needed to construct and equip new workshops in Cambridge Street, Glasgow. At the Cambridge Street premises, the company continued to make the compass Thomson had designed during the 1870s and to supply it in some quantity, especially to the Admiralty. At the same time, the firm became increasingly involved in the design, production and sale of electrical apparatus.
 
In 1899, Lord Kelvin resigned from his University chair and became, in 1900, a director in the newly formed company, Kelvin & James White Ltd which incorporated the business of James White. At the same time, Kelvin's nephew, James Thomson Bottomley (1845-1926), joined the firm.

Kelvin & James White Ltd underwent a further change of name in 1913, becoming Kelvin Bottomley & Baird Ltd. Following the formal amalgamation of In 1947, Kelvin, Bottomley & Baird Ltd and Henry Hughes & Sons Ltd combined to form Kelvin & Hughes Ltd., and in 1964 became a part of Smith's Industries Ltd.

Some marine historians portray Thomson as a man of undoubted talent and enthusiasm, with some genuine knowledge of the sea, who managed to parlay a handful of modest ideas in compass design into a commercial monopoly for his own manufacturing concern, using his exulted personal reputation to repel even small claims of originality from others, and persuading the Admiralty and the law to overlook both the deficiencies of his own design and the virtues of his competitors. Edited and corrected from Wkiipedia and other sources.

OUR UNCONDITIONAL GUARANTEE: If not completely satisfied with your purchase, it may be returned, if without damage, within five days of receipt in its original packaging. Return items must be insured for their full value. A prior email authorization by us for the return is required. Shipping charges are included in this offer within the continental United States and are refundable if due to our error.

International buyers welcome, but inquire first. We have satisfied customers in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Chile, Republic of China, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Estonia, England, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Martinique, Mexico, New Hebrides (Vanuatu), New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Nova Scotia, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, St. Maarten, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, USVI, Vanuatu (New Hebrides) and the Eastern Caribbean.

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