PRESENTED is a large size skylight binnacle
that was made by the famous John E. Hand & Sons company of Philadelphia. It likely dates back to the 1920’s. It
is made of brass and has six glass panels, with a Hand 6 inch gimbaled compass, serial number 6293, housed inside.
Binnacles like this were always found on the most expensive yachts and each of the major American maker’s Ritchie,
Danforth, Wilfrid O. White, PERKO, and John Hand had examples for sale. Unfortunately, because of their high cost the last
maker of contemporary skylight binnacles, Danforth, ceased production in December, 2009.
This one isBOGART’ S SANTANA: Binnacles such as these became very popular starting in the 1920’s. Their popularity may have increased after one
is about 3 inches taller than the PERKO make which we sold last year and the same height, but 1/2 inches wider than
the Danforth we sold at year end 2010.
was seen aboard the motor vessel “Santana” in the movie “Key Largo” (1948) staring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
Bogie also had one in the cockpit of his famous yawl Santana. Here it is shown covered with a chrome hood. And for those
interested, I insisted on having one on our ketch Bagheera which served us well during seven years of ocean cruising. PERKO
discontinued making them about 1954, and Ritchie did the same. The only source of skylight binnacles until recently was
from Danforth priced at $3400.00, but they discontinued compass production in 2009. They are now very hard
to find in decent condition.
CONDITION: Some time ago this binnacle has been polished and the white residue was
not removed. In some places it shows as pink. Since then, it has acquired a new patina which adds to its salty good looks.
The glass appears to be a replacement and one panel has a chip along the edge. The compass is original and works properly.
The fluid has been drained for shipping and unless it is going back to sea that is a good way to leave it. It is equipped
with an electric connection for a compass’ light. If desired, we can have the binnacle professionally polished
and lacquered for a cost of $300.00 plus shipping. The plate on the front is blank.
DIMENSIONS:Overall 14 1/2″H x 9″ 1/2“ D
WEIGHT 11 1/2 pounds with wood baseDiameter of compass card 4 3/4″
Diameter of compass 6″
for sighting Sun
on lens of panePROVENANCE
& BRIEF HISTORY: The John E. Hand & Sons Company was founded in Philadelphia in 1873, quickly gaining a reputation
as competent manufacturers of nautical instruments and compass adjusters. The company founder, John Enos Hand, is is
reported to be “the first man in America to adjust a compass aboard an iron ship.”
The Hand Company
built navigational equipment for all varieties of ships, and operated a chain of retail outlets with service facilities
in key ports, including Baltimore and New Orleans. Until 1956, these outlets sold Hand instruments as well as other nautical
accoutrement’s and provided compass adjusting services. Additionally, John E. and his two sons, John L. and Bartram, were
inventors, who patented design improvements for numerous instruments that were employed in the company’s work.
The company was primarily involved in commercial shipping until the late 1930s when the United States military began
preparations for World War II. Though the Hand Company never completely abandoned its involvement with private industry, after
World War II, military contracts continued to be their major business. Of note are the wrist compass, they developed for the
Navy beginning in the 1950s, and the Mark VII Model 5 Navy Standard Binnacle.
Though it moved numerous times, the Hand
Company headquarters and factory remained in the Delaware Valley, occupying several buildings in Philadelphia and southern
New Jersey. Maintaining its central office in Philadelphia well into the 1900s, the factory was moved to Atco, New Jersey
around the turn of the twentieth century and subsequently to Haddonfield, New Jersey. It moved one last time in the 1960’s
to Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
In 1997, California-based Sunset Cliffs Merchandising Corporation purchased the Hand Company
and all its assets for a small amount, but did not make use of its brand name.
FLAT RATE SHIPPING to 48 contiguous States $40.00
binnacle is ready to go back to sea or it is suitable as a gift or as an addition to any collection of
fine marine artifacts.