ORIGINAL SPHERICAL COMPASS IN A LARGE SKYLIGHT BINNACLE
BY WILFRID O. WHITE, Ca 1935
PRESENTED is a large size skylight or cathedral binnacle with an original Spherical Compass
that was invented by Wilfrid O. White. The design dates to January 6, 1931 with Patent number
1987383 granted on January 8, 1935. This is not one of the later versions, but an original, and sold under the Kelvin-White
brand name indicating the association White had with William Thomson, Lord Kelvin. The main feature of this compass was that
the sphere magnified the size of the compass card substanially. In this case, when the bowl is filled with fluid, the actual
compass card is 3 1/2" in diameter, but appears to be a 5 1/2" card when viewed. The base of the compass bowl is fitted with
a frosted lens which allows lighting the card from beneath, but no internal light was fitted.
is in the preferred brass finish with six panels one of which acts as a filter. Two of the panels have an etched vertical
line to allow for taking bearings, and the black filter is used when taking amplitudes of the sun to determine compass error
or as sun shade.
Binnacles such as these became very popular starting in the 1920's. Their popularity may have increased after one was seen
aboard the motor vessel "Santana" in the movie "Key Largo" (1948) staring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Bogie also had
one in the cockpit of his famous yawl Santana. Here it is shown covered with a chrome hood. And for those interested, we installed
one on our ketch Bagheera which served us well during seven years of ocean cruising. PERKO discontinued making them about
1954, and Ritchie did the same. Thereafter, the only source of skylight binnacles was from Danforth priced at $3400.00, until
they discontinued all compass production in December, 2009. In May, 2011 Ritchie Navigation introduced a new skylight binnacle
under the Heritage Brand. It was priced at $3600.00 in chrome.
After all these years, the condition is exceptional, and everything is almost in "like new" condition with the compass working
properly. There are four lubber pins one at each primary heading of 90 degrees, one of which is broken off at the level of
the card. As fitted by Kelvin-White, the panes are Plexiglas, but are in great condition. The compass was recently cleaned
and its paint freshened in our shop, and the binnacle was professionally polished and lacquered for your enjoyment. The compass
is being sold for display. Its fluid has been removed to preserve the card, and it is not intended to be used at sea in this
condition. It can be made sea ready by simply adding a mixture of 1/3 alcohol and 2/3 distilled water. There was no lighting fitted by the maker. However, an electrician can fit a receptacle
for lighting from the bottom or one can be installed from the top.
1/2"H x 10 1/2" D including flange Deduct 2" for the wood base
12 pounds with wood base
of compass card 3 1/2" Apparent Diameter of compass card 5 1/2"
sphere 5 1/4" Overall diameter bezel 5 3/4" OA Diameter case 9 1/2"
Dark lens for sighting Sun or as a shade
Clear lens on five sides with four lubber pins
& BRIEF HISTORY: Wilfred O. White had a rich nautical family history, descending from a shipbuilding family that
dated back to 1600 England. Born in Melbourne Australia, White came to the United States in 1898 and married Ruth Eldridge,
the daughter of George Eldridge, who charted the first tide and current tables in U.S.
White had studied with the Scottish
Lord Kelvin of compass fame for a year or more in Glasgow in the very early 1900's. Kelvin's work on magnetic compasses goes
back to 1870, and the result was quickly adopted by the world's navies. After Kelvin's death in 1907, White was chosen to
be Kelvin's exclusive agent in the United States by Kelvin's successors and partners, Kelvin, Bottomley & Baird. The Kelvin
& Wilfrid O. White and Co. commenced operations in 1918. White, reportedly, had to pay LIST price, in advance with his
orders. This became a thorn in Wilfred's side, and it ultimately lead him to develop his own design improvements which were
marketed under the Kelvin - Wilfrid O. White brand. He invented the spherical compass in 1931 and received his US Patent in
1935. His son Wilfrid Gordon later improved upon it's design in the 1950's.
The Wilfrid White company sold out to the Eastern Company in 1961 which consolidated it operations with
Danforth's Marine Hardware, first in Naugatuck, CT and then moved the Danforth- White Division to Portland, ME in 1961. Compasses
continued to be produced under the Danforth - White label. In the 1970's Danforth dropped the Danforth - White brand and marketed
their compasses as Danforth. In 2009, Danforth ceased compass production entirely.
example dates all the way back to the introduction of the spherical compass and should be highly prized if used afloat or
RATE SHIPPING to 48 contiguous States $40.00
This rare Skylight or Cathedral binnacle is ready to go back to sea or it is suitable as
a gift or as an addition to any collection of fine marine artifacts.
OUR UNCONDITIONAL NO NONSENSE GUARANTEE:
If not completely satisfied with your purchase it may be returned within five days of receipt in its original packaging if
without damage. Return items must be insured for their full value. Only a prior email authorization from us for the return
is required. Shipping charges are included in this offer if an error is due to our fault.
International buyers welcome, but inquire first. We have satisfied customers in Argentina, Australia, Austria,
Belgium, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Chile, 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 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 and the Eastern Caribbean.
ACCEPTED FORMS OF PAYMENT
are Bank wire transfer, cashier's check, money order, or personal check in which case the item will be held until cleared.
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Copyright 2012 by Land And Sea Collection™, All Rights