This Antique E S Ritchie Ship Compass is one of the earliest liquid-filled compass models. Ritchie invented the liquid-filled compass in the late 1800s to stabilize the compass card while the vessel was rolling and pitching. This compass has one of the very early Float Chamber Dials. The Dial was hand-painted using egg white-based paint for the background and India Ink for the graduations. “Ritchie Boston” is printed across one of the arms of the dial.
The name “E.S. Ritchie” is stamped into the top as well as the serial number “6659”, the Patent dates “September 9, 1862”, “April 7, 1863” and “May 12, 1866” and “July 19, 1870”. Ritchie’s patent of Sept. 9, 1862, described a liquid compass so designed that the liquid would not oxidize the magnet or card, and that the friction and wear of the pivot and its bearing were minimized. Ritchie obtained two patents on April 7, 1863. One described a needle enclosed in an air-tight metallic case, the other May 12, 1866, described a liquid compass that could be read at a distance so it would not be affected by any iron-on or about the deck of a ship.
The compass is 8.5″ across, the glass is 6.75 inches, the Gimball is 10.5″ across. The weight including the box is just over 13 pounds. The crossing cylinders are air chambers. The fluid was drained at some point and not refilled. It comes mounted on a wood box, top of the box is missing.
Weight including compass: 13.2 lbs.
Compass Diameter: 8.5″
Glass Diameter: 6.75″
Gimball Diameter: 10″
Weight including box: 13.2 lbs.
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