Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Antique nauticalia?

While we were in Nantwich town centre on Saturday morning, we visited, as usual, the indoor market. This houses many interesting stalls for the both of us. I enjoy the car spares, antique toys, and hardware. Margaret has different interests in the antique ceramics, haberdashery and bags. However, we both always head straight for a stall that sells general antiques and collectibles. Margaret looks at, and sometimes buys, jewellery, and I have in the past been given a beautiful 1908 Waltham Traveller pocket watch, which was in mint condition, in its own velvet lined original case, and in full working order. This was my Christmas present a couple of years ago.

This week I spotted an item, which is possibly an instrument used in marine navigation, but I am not too sure how, and exactly what for. I believe it is a compass to determine the heading of an object  from the days before modern electronics. It is of very high quality, and made of solid brass, hewn from a solid block. By its condition, I would say reproduction rather than original. The case is marked "Stanley London", and on the back is a table of sine logarithms to convert the readings taken from numeric to sine. The lid opens up to reveal a mirror, with a hairline from top to bottom where it meets a hole drilled straight through the case lid. The base contains a compass needle, with both the compass scale and a numeric scale below it, with a marker, also in solid brass, that can be rotated from the outside by a lever on the base exterior. Built into this rotating marker are two oil filled bubble levellers. A length of brass folds out, and on the end of that is another fold out pointer with a hole in it, as though to view through the hole in the mirror lid. The whole thing comes with its own walnut case, which has an inlaid brass anchor in the lid and inlaid brass corners. It is all in mint condition and working order. At £25 I bought it, as an interesting item to display in the boat, but I wonder if anybody can confirm exactly what it is and how it would be used? Here it is.....

Any comments would be very welcome.


  1. Stanley have been making all kinds of compass for donkeys years.From the description - it sound like a variation on a marching compass and looks a bit like this one here.




  2. Thanks Mike. As a result of your comment about Stanley having made compasses for years, I persisted with my search which took me past all the websites I had previously found for Stanley Tools, and came across the right one:
    From what I can gather off there, what I have got is a reproduction Brunton pocket transit compass or clinometer. The company sell these as a working instrument for geologists in the mining industry. The one shown on the link above has all the same bits as mine, except mine is brass. Why such an instrument would be in a nautical themed box I don't know. The one on ebay is the same box, but that instrument is purely compass and appears to be missing the internal levelling devices that mine has. A clinometer measures both heading, and inclination or declination of the land, not a feature required at sea I think! Although, I suppose if you took the heading and angle of inclination to the top of a chart marked, land based tower, and the height of the tower was known, the position at sea could be calculated using trigonometry? Anyway, I am much nearer now, so thanks.

  3. Now got it sussed having found on line instructions for this instrument, a clinometer. It can be used as a hand held or tripod mounted compass to get a bearing. Turn it on its side and use the long bubble level that is mounted on the internal vernier scale to determine an incline in degrees or as a percentage. Find your position by taking three bearing readings to known landmarks and use triangulation on a chart. Use the slotted screw in the side of the case to adjust the declination, or deviation angle between true and magnetic north in the area where it is being used. Other measurements of distance and height can be calculated using trigonometry, and finally, hang it from a string and it is a plumb line. It appears to be the genuine article and not a decorative reproduction. The Swiss Army knife of the compass world!


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