“DENT & Co.”!

How many wood
cased binnacle compasses have you seen that is designed like a pyramid? Not only are they rare in the general market, this
is the first to be offered for sale in recent times. Most are only seen in museums or books.

is one of the finest and handsomest wood cased binnacle compasses ever offered for sale with an astounding weight of 27 pounds.
Its pyramid design for the Royal Navy dates back to earlier then 1862 by English maker E.J. Dent. Dent was mainly know
for his work in time pieces and chronometers in determining longitude, but they also invented the liquid compass in 1853 which
became the standard for the Royal Navy and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. In 1859 “Big Ben”, the giant clock of Dent’s
manufacture was put in service at the Houses of Parliament. The company continues in business today as makers of
PROVENANCE: In 1890, four compass makers, consisting
of Lilley, Reynolds, Highes, and Dent were invited by the Admiralty to compete in the design of a new compass that would be
suitable for steamboats as well as sailboats and pulling boats. They were to be liquid filled, and it was specified that candles
be used for lighting rather than oil lamps since this had proved to be better when used on the newly developed torpedo craft
of that early age.
182, Serial Number 432
At the time, Dent had been making compasses for the Royal Navy for over
50 years, and won the competition on all counts. Its compass was introduced as Pattern 20 in 1892. In 1907, the number was
changed to Pattern 182 and it remained in service until the end of WW I.
This example of
a Pattern 182 pyramid binnacle compass, and its candle lamp are of museum quality, a term we don’t use lightly. It
shows very little wear for its 100 years of age, and may be considered in near new condition.
THE CASE has a brass hood with two slanted large
beveled glass ports. On the other two sides are slanted panels with a smaller window against which the elegant lamp which
contains the candle holder can be mounted. The back panel has peep holes and a mounting that allows for
a sliding brass door or the placement of the lamp. The top of the binnacle is equipped with a thick folding wood and brass
bail. The base has a wood door which opens to expose a lock for the gimbals, and a brass tube which likely held a Findler’s
All together, it makes a most impressive example of an
important small Royal Navy binnacle that is of the highest grade.
THE CARD has North marked
by an elaborate Fleur de les as the pointer. As in most early cards, no degrees are present. The compass
rose shows the eight cardinal points and is further divided to 1/16 points and then to 32. It measures 6 3/6 inches
in diameter. 
The chamber is clear of sediment.
Whyte -Thomson, Glasgow, is engraved on the card, but the upper
brass ring of the compass bowl is marked Patt 182, No 432 which is the serial number. Since the compass bowl is correct, we
can assume that the card was replaced during a periodic inspection as required by the Navy. This was not unusual when parts
of many similar designs were used as replacement stock.

       Back side peep holes and bracket
               Lamps candle holder

This very handsome vintage compass with the rare early
style wood dovetailed wood case and a candle burner lamp is exceptional throughout.


Diameter of bowl 5 1/8″
Diameter of card 4 1/2″

Base 8 3/4″ Square                                               
Height 15″ with handle raised

WEIGHT  27 pounds


The history of Dent & Co. spans three centuries of precision watch and clock making in Great
Britain. Established in 1814 by Edward J. Dent, the company embraced the Victorian fervor for technological innovation and
created precision chronometers to navigate the Royal Navy and guide some of the most intrepid explorers on their voyages.
The British Empire was in full expansion and its maritime tradition had produced some remarkable technological breakthroughs
from the late 18th century; John Harrison’s triumphant mechanical solution in 1764 to locate a ship’s position
at sea won the coveted Board of Longitudes prize money and further consolidated Britain as the horological force in the world. 
Propelling the impetus of Britain’s primacy, Dent proved a key player in Victorian horological history manufacturing
the Standard Clock at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich which was to keep “Greenwich Mean Time”  the time
to which all others in the Empire were referred, (better known today as G.M.T.) and continued to do so until replaced by an
electronic clock in 1946.  Dent also made probably the most famous clock in the world – the Great Clock for the Houses
of Parliament, familiarly known as Big Ben.

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