Giant Vintage Polished
Brass Skylight Binnacle

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GIANT VINTAGE POLISHED BRASS SKYLIGHT BINNACLE
BY WILFRID O. WHITE, Ca 1935


With ORIGINAL SPHERICAL COMPASS PRESENTEDon the viewer’s left is a giant skylight or cathedral
binnacle with an original Spherical Compass that was invented by Wilfrid O. White. The design dates to January 6, 1931 under Patent
number 1987383 which was granted on January 8, 1935. This is one of the original of this design with the oversize compass housed
in a giant size binnacle, and sold under the Kelvin-Wilfrid O. White brand name. See company history below. The
 standout
feature of this compass was the sphere which magnified the size of the compass card approximately 1.5 times. In this
case, the 4 inch card appears to be 6 inches when the bowl is filled with fluid. There is an external light
fitted for night viewing, and a brass hood fits over the top to protect the night vision of the crew. It is in
the preferred brass finish with six glass panels. One of the panels has an etched vertical line for
taking bearings. COMPARATIVE SIZE: For size comparison it is shown along side a
similar Wilfrid O. White binnacle of the same period that is shown on a 2 inch wood base. The smaller binnacle measures
12 1/2″ H x 9″ W without the base and weighs 7 pounds less. <
Binnacles such as these became very popular starting in the 1920’s. Their popularity may have increased after one 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. The one being offerred in this
listing is the largest we’ve ever seen or heard of in a binnacle of this type. PROVENANCE:
Originally this binnacle was the steering compass of a 1930 Eldredge McGinnis designed motor yacht built by the Crosby Yacht
Yard, Osterville, MA. It was removed by one of the last owners at the time he sold the boat as a remembrance. CONDITION: This
binnacle is in reconditioned like new condition with the compass working properly. The compass was recently cleaned and its
paint freshened in our shop, and the binnacle was professionally polished and lacquered. There are four lubber pins one at
each primary heading of 90 degrees. The compass is being sold for display. Its fluid has been removed to preserve the card,
and it is not intended to be used at sea in this condition. It can be made sea going by simply adding a mixture of 1/3
alcohol and 2/3 distilled water, but first consult a professional compass adjuster.
Kelvin &Wilfrid O. White name tag

 

DIMENSIONS:
Overall
14 1/2″ H x 11 1/2″ W including flange   WEIGHT18 pounds

Actual Diameter of compass card 4″         Apparent Diameter of compass card 6″   

Diameter of gimbals 8 1/4″                 Overall diameter bezel 7 1/4″ OA

Diameter case 10 1/2″


The largest skylight ever
With nighttime domeBRIEF HISTORY: Wilfred O. White had a rich nautical family history, descending 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. White had studied with
the Scottish Lord Kelvin of compass fame for a year or more in Glasgow in the very early 1900’s. 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 Kelvin’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, reportedly, had to pay LIST price, in
advance with his orders. This became a thorn in Wilfred’s side, and it ultimately lead him to develop his own design improvements
which were marketed under the Kelvin – Wilfrid O. White brand. He invented the spherical compass in 1931 and received his
US Patent in 1935. His son Wilfrid Gordon later improved upon it’s design in the 1950’s. The Wilfrid White company sold out to the Eastern Company in 1961 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 continued to be produced under the Danforth – White label. In the 1970’s Danforth dropped the Danforth
– White brand and marketed their compasses as Danforth. In 2009, Danforth ceased compass production entirely. This
example dates all the way back to the introduction of the spherical compass and should be highly prized if used afloat or
ashore.


This exceptionally rare GIANT size Skylight 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.

 

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