HENRY HUGHES – SIR WILLIAM THOMSON BOXED SHIPS THREADED COMPASS ~1879

Guaranteed “ Extra Fine” 

Your chance to get a very rare piece of maritime history
with a collaboration between two well known historic men 

PRSENTED IS A VERY IMPORTANT ENGLISH DRY CARD COMPASS made
by Henry Hughes & Son, London based on the 1876 design of a light weight dry compass card invented by Sir William Thomson,
later Lord Kelvin of Largs. It is housed in a period correct butternut wood box with tongue and groove construction and a
luxurious golden patina. On the bottom of the box’s lid is an old label with much of its information missing. In addition,
there are penciled notations of various compass and navigation calculations.
 
 
This compass is a slightly smaller 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
 
It is the only compass of this type that we have ever seen that was made to the Thomson design
by Henry Hughes or anyone other than James White of Kelvin-White. However, this very early collaboration of Henry Hughes &
Lord Kelvin, which dates back to 1903 and likely much earlier, ultimately lead to the formal merging of the two companies
to form Kelvin-Hughes in 1947.
 
 
THE CARD: The card is made from beautifully engraved paper 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 thread 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 fro 0 to 90 degrees for each quadrant. It measures 6 inches
in diameter and has a finely made aluminum center cap which was a very expensive metal at that time.
 
This complex arrangement was supposed to reduce drag and make the compass less sensitive
to the pitching, rolling and course variations of a ship. 
 
COMPASS BOWL & GIMBALS: The bowl is made from heavy cast bronze, and is lined
in a glazed material, maybe porcelain. Hand painted in blue on the bottom is:
 
The Sir William Thomson
Compass
o
Made by H. Hughes & Son L.
London
 
There is a lubber’s line with arrow that marks the position of the ship’s bow. The arrow
is imprinted on a bezel that is secured by four brass screws. Some of the interior finish has flaked off as can be seen in
the pictures, but is very minor. The compass operates properly.
 
There is a bronze ring with two holders that accept the pinions of the compass bowl and
serve as an athawrtship gimbal. The foreword and aft gimbal is furnished when the gimbals’ ring is hung from two hooks, one
on each side, to hangers on the walls of a box. There is no box with the compass.
 
CONDITION: The compass card, bowl, bezel and gimbals are in exceptionally
condition. However, there is some missing paint on the exterior and interior of the bowl, and much of it has crazing
and has lifted slightly at the edges. The compass operates accurately.
 
DIMENSIONS:
Diameter of bowl    7″            
Diameter of card
6″
Depth of bowl         4 3/4″      
Weight
7 Lbs
Diameter of gimbal 8 1/2″

BOX 10″ square by 7″ high       Weight
complete 9 1/2 Lbs

                   Inside
of bowl
        Bottom of bowl, glaze over bronze

                    
Compass and gimbals
                          With
bezel on

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

BRIEF HISTORY OF MAKER: Henry Hughes & Sons
was founded in 1838 in London as a maker of chronographic and scientific instruments. The firm was incorporated as Henry Hughes
& Sons Ltd in 1903 and in 1923, the company produced its first recording echo sounder. In 1935, a controlling interest
in the company was acquired by S. Smith & Son Ltd resulting in the development of marine and aircraft instruments. Following
the London office’s destruction in the Blitz of 1941, a collaboration was entered into with Kelvin, Bottomley & Baird
Ltd, resulting in the establishing of Marine Instruments Ltd. Following the formal amalgamation of Kelvin, Bottomley &
Baird Ltd and Henry Hughes & Sons Ltd in 1947 to form Kelvin & Hughes Ltd, Marine Instruments Ltd acted as regional
agents in the UK for Kelvin & Hughes Ltd who were essentially now a part of Smith’s Industries Ltd founded in 1944 as
the successors of S. Smith & Son Ltd. The well known “HUSUN”
trademark was in use starting in the 1920s.

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:
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.