Antique Telltale CompassCa 1850

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Like New Original Condition


Telltale or tell tale compasses are one of the rarest found. This one is a perfect example of
a mid 19th Century captain’s cabin compass. It has a special card for viewing when it is hung over a bunk making
 it a special
find. Highly desirable for any important collection or as a gift
Presented is
a truly fine dry card tell tale compass. It has a paper card which has the directions printed on it so when it is mounted
overhead as it would be on a vessel, are seen correctly. This allows for viewing them properly oriented when seen when lying
on a bunk. It is housed in a recently polished and lacquered cartridge brass gimbaled case which is suspended from a brass
bracket. The entire assembly is in perfect original condition with only a few dents and scratches to show its former use at
TELLTALE COMPASS USE: This type compass is designed to hang from the overhead. They were most
frequently found in the captain’s cabin over his bunk. Off watch he could keep an eye on the ships heading while he was resting
at sea, and also keep track of wind changes when at anchor. This one is a wonderful example of a high quality British and
or an American instrument of the mid 1800’s. There is no maker’s mark.
THE COMPASS CARD: The highly ornate Fleur des Lis is the North pointer. The outer ring of the
compass card is graduated in 64 marks, 16 in each quadrant. Each mark represents 5 5/8 degrees which is the equivalent of
one half “point”. The inner subdivisions are in Cardinal Points, N.S,E,W, and quarter points, NE,SE,SW,NW, then
and 1/2 points. There are 32 points on the compass card, each being 11 1/4 degrees.

antique compass is beautifully made of all brass construction with a stout gimbals and overhead mounting bracket. Condition
is exceptional throughout. All surfaces have been recently polished and lacquered. It was rebuilt by a New England compass
shop, a new Ruby jewel installed at the pivot, and tested thoroughly. The compass works properly when displayed in the horizontal,
but is a little sluggish when mounted overhead which is a good thing in a seaway.  

Compass as viewed
without mirror


Diameter of bowl 5 3/4″
Diameter of card 4 3/4″
Depth of tub 3 1/2″ Weight
3 lbs 8 oz
dimensions 10″ x 8″ x 4″

This is an
exceptionally fine example of this type compass and is suitable for the finest collection or as a gift

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Shipping & Packaging

The cost of shipping, packing, handling, and insurance to your destination, will be calculated point to point and is an additional charge. You may email us to get these costs. We price our shipping honestly, but we expect to be reimbursed for the nominal cost of packaging materials and handling.

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

International buyers welcome, but inquire first. We have satisfied customers worldwide.

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Established in 2003

Celebrating 18 Years of Exellence in Nautical Antiques

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