U.S. Navy Battleship Binnacle By A. Lietz Company San Francisco 1944

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A. Lietz Binnacle

Presented is probably the most impressive large ship binnacle we’ve had the pleasure to offer. The model is referred to as “Torpedo Style”. It was manufactured by the A. Lietz Company of San Francisco. The compass is by the Lionel Corporation of N.Y. and is dated 1944. The pedestal and compass housing are bronze with arms for compensating iron balls. The impressive compass housing is brass with retracted lifting handles on each side of the top to easily remove it from the compass base. The binnacle is electrified with a light underneath the compass. It sits on a hardwood mahogany base.

We were unable to specifically locate information relative to Lietz’s manufacture of equipment for the Navy during the war, but below is a bit of history by Francois Uzes.

Lietz Company History Adolph Lietz was born in Leubeck, Germany in 1860. He immigrated to San Francisco in 1879 and worked in several scientific instrument shops before opening his own business. Lietz purchased the business of Carl Rahsskopff in 1880 and began his own business in 1882. Lietz originally joint ventured with another maker, Gottlieb A. Mauerhan, to form “Lietz and Mauerhan,” a relationship that lasted for about a year. Following Mauerhan’s departure, Lietz paired up with Conrad J. Weinmann who had previously worked for Carl Rahsskopff. The company was renamed “A. Lietz & Co.” and at that time produced surveying instruments and related tools. The firm incorporated in 1892 under the name “The A. Lietz Company” and Weinmann possibly left at about that time. In 1910 a complete line of drafting materials and engineering equipment was added. In 1947, after 65 years of production, the firm discontinued the manufacturing of surveying instruments. The reason given was that it would be necessary and very costly to retool in order to manufacture the types of modern instruments then being marketed.
This is a link to an A. Lietz catalog which appears to have been published in 1926.


Overall Height: 57″ Estimated Weight: 250 – 300 Lbs
Overall Width: 33″

Binnacle Height. : 53″
Width: 33” Add 3” for Chart Holder in Back
Compass Housing: 13” Width x 14” Depth x 12” Height
Compass: 9 3/4″
Compass Card: 2 3/4″
Chart Holder Tube: 26 1/4” x 2 3/4”
Hardwood mahogany base: 23” x 4”

Manufacturer’s plate reads:
Standard Binnacle
Manufactured By
The A Lietz Co.
San Francisco USA
Established 1882

The compass is by Lionel Corp of New York. The inscription on the compass ring reads:

712 L 13580 1944 The Lionel Corporation N Y The compass gimbal is marked: 
During WWII, the Lionel Corp. was enlisted to join the war effort by manufacturing compasses for both large and smaller installations. Their copper and brass housed US Navy Lifeboat Binnacles are much sought after by collectors. See this listing for one we currently have available:

CONDITION: This exceptional and very dramatic binnacle is in excellent condition. The brass/bronze has been polished and lacquered for dramatic display. There is a bubble within the compass itself, but the compass is working properly. The gimballed compass rides steadily. The electrified compass housing adds a bit more drama.




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