Compass (2 of 2)

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probably made in London

Postcard of Compass (2 of 2).
© National Museums Scotland

Compass (2 of 2)

This navigational compass was probably made by Brahmah and Sons, scientific instrument makers based in London. It was designed by Captain C. Phillips and patented in 1825. The weighted ring was to regulate the bowl's movements on board in stormy weather.

The printed compass card has eight cardinal points, and 64 subsidiary points. Through the transparent parts in the centre are just visible the bowed shape of the magnetised 'needles' which caused the card to swing around to the brass pointer showing magnetic north. In the photograph the pointer is between North West and West, and thus North is more than 45 degrees out.

A growing awareness of the inadequacies of the marine compass in the early years of the 19th century had suggested the adoption of a standard instrument that could be made in numbers and issued to ships by the Admiralty. This is one pattern which was submitted as a possible design.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-001-175-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0504: National Museums Scotland Part 2
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1983.235
Date: 1825
Around 1825
What: Compass
Subject: 9. NAVIGATION (Departmental Classification)
Who: Admiralty Compass Collection
Brahmah and Sons, London (Maker)
Where: England, London
Description: Captain Philips' compass by Brahmah and Sons of London, 1825
  • Charles Phillips, RN, Patent for 'Construction of a ship's compass' no. 5189 of 18 June 1825: Bennet Woodcroft, Patents for Inventions, reprint London, 1969, p 440 
  • For Bramah, see McNeil, Ian, Joseph Bramah: a Century of Invention 1749-1851, New York, 1968 
  • For Phillips, see Taylor, E.G.R. The Mathematical Practitioners of Hanoverian England 1714-1840. Cambridge, 1966, p 432 
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