Compass (1 of 2)

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probably made in London

Postcard of Compass (1 of 2).
© National Museums Scotland

Compass (1 of 2)

This navigational compass was probably made by Brahmah and Sons, engineers and locksmiths based in London. It was designed by Captain C. Phillips and patented in 1825.

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. The weighted ring round the centre was to regulate the bowl's movements on board in stormy weather.

A standard marine compass was not adopted for the Royal Navy until 1840, when the whole question of its design had been contemplated by the Admiralty Compass Committee, set up in 1837. The design finally adopted had four needles made from steel plate, set on edge on the back of the card.

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Online ID: 000-180-001-176-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  
Date: Around 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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