Few Kelvin-Wilfrid O. White mushroom binnacles have ever
been seen? And very few have found their way on the market. This one must have been made for a prestigious
Presented is one of the finest and handsomest brass
This very handsome vintage binnacle with its rare early style mushroom
CONDITION: Overall condition is exceptional, but expect to find some
Overall height 17″ Maximum
THE COMPASS CARD: North is identified with a Fleur des Lis, with the makers name and address
under. The compass card is only graduated in compass points which means that it was designed
before 1910 when the use of degree increments were first introduced. The larger subdivisions are in Cardinal Points,
N.S,E, and W, and quarter points, NE,SE,SW,NW, then 1/2 points, 1/8 points and finally 1/16 points. There are 32 points
on the compass card, each being 11 1/4 degrees. In an air conditioned environment, some small air bubbles may developed,
but outside in a temperate climate, they will disappear.
PROVENANCE: Wilfred O. White had
a rich nautical family history. he descended 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.
Later Wifrid became Kelvin’s exclusive licensee in this country. White had studied with
the Scottish Lord Kelvin for a year or more in Glasgow in the very early 1900’s. Kelvin had made trips to this country as
early as 1842, so he likely met Wifrid during one of them. 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 Kevin’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 was buying Kelvin’s instruments from Scotland, and it is reported, he had to pay
LIST price, IN ADVANCE. This was expensive and a thorn in Wilfred’s side, and it ultimately induced him to develop his own
design improvements which were marketed under the KWOW brand. This example of White’s work was recently purchased
at auction in New England.
The Wilfrid White company sold out to the Eastern Company 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 continue to be produced under the Danforth White label.