Here is a nice nautical compass made by Beck-Lee and Lionel for WWI ships for your collection or decor needs. Would make a great gift for a special occasion, or keep for yourself!
This piece came from the collection of the Patapsco River Power Squadron. We have a number of pieces from this group's marine/nautical items that we will be listing separately for sale in our online stores over the next few days. We will post the listing #s here as those items become available.
The compass was made by the Beck-Leeknown for making toy trains during WWII. Has matching serial numbers of 2303 on the compass case and the gimbal ring. Also has the year 1942 impressed on the compass body. This is called a 6.75" Card Compass.
The compass was made for the US Navy Bureau of Ships. Has both the base and lid to the compass case. You typically do not get the lid with these compass cases. The party that donated to the Power Squad etched some details into the inside of the top lid of the case. The body and bowl on this compass is made of some sort of metal, as is the gimbal ring.
The gray wood case is intact. The case was made by the Lionel Corporation. So, the compass and case are not matching. No splits, cracks, missing pieces or repairs. The four screw and latches on the two sides are in place as are the 3 wood dowel pins. Has indented area on two sides of the case to make it easier to carry.
The compass is 6.75" across to the ends of the pivot points on the gimbal ring where it would sit in a binnacle (binnacle not included). The compass is 8.5" across at outside of ring around the glass and is 4.75" tall.
The wood case is 6.25" tall, by 11-5/8" across, by 11-5/8" wide. Let us know if you have any questions or need additional pictures.
Some interesting information about the United State Power Squadrons:
The United States Power Squadrons (USPS) is a non-profit educational organization, founded in 1914, whose mission is to improve maritime safety and enjoyability through classes in seamanship, navigation, and other related subjects. Franklin Delano Roosevelt played an integral part in growing this organization after WWI. The USPS comprises approximately 45,000 members organized into 450 squadrons across the United States and in some US territories. It is the largest U.S. non-profit boating organization and has been honored by three U.S. presidents for its civic contributions. Its official publication is The Ensign magazine.
There are many educational opportunities available within the United States Power Squadrons. USPS offers courses that teach basic knowledge necessary to operate boats safely and legally. The basic course meets the requirements set forth by NASBLA. The United States Power Squadrons offer courses in advanced navigation using modern equipment such as GPS and Radar. Courses are even offered in celestial navigation. USPS also teaches advanced courses in Weather, Marine Engine Maintenance, Marine Electronic and Electrical Systems, Sail, and Cruise Planning.
One critical activity of the United States Power Squadrons is Vessel Safety Check. During a Vessel Safety Check, a qualified USPS Vessel Examiner will board vessels (with permission) and check for the presence and condition of various pieces of equipment required by federal and state laws for the safe operation of that particular vessel. A vessel safety check is provided at no charge and is not a law enforcement boarding. If the boat carries the proper equipment, a sticker will be awarded to display on the vessel. If a boat does not pass the inspection, the USPS informs the owners, but does not report its findings to any law enforcement or government agency.
A parallel organization operates in Canada under the name Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons (CPS) in English and Escadrilles canadiennes de plaisance (ECP) in French. It was founded as an offshoot of USPS in 1938.
Some history/information about what a Pelorus is and what it is used for;
In marine navigation, a pelorus is a reference tool for maintaining bearing of a vessel at sea. It is a "dumb compass" without a directive element, suitably mounted and provided with vanes to permit observation of relative bearings.
In appearance and use, a pelorus resembles a compass or compass repeater, with sighting vanes or a sighting telescope attached, but it has no directive properties. That is, it remains at any relative direction to which it is set. It is generally used by setting 000° at the lubber's line. Relative bearings are then observed. They can be converted to bearings true, magnetic, grid, etc., by adding the appropriate heading. The direct use of relative bearings is sometimes of value. A pelorus is useful, for instance, in determining the moment at which an aid to navigation is broad on the beam. It is also useful in measuring pairs of relative bearings which can be used to determine distance off and distance abeam of a navigational aid.
If the true heading is set at the lubber's line, true bearings are observed directly. Similarly, compass bearings can be observed if the compass heading is set at the lubber's line, etc. However, the vessel must be on the heading to which the pelorus is set if accurate results are to be obtained, or else a correction must be applied to the observed results. Perhaps the easiest way of avoiding error is to have the steersman indicate when the vessel is on course. This is usually done by calling out "mark, mark, mark" as long as the vessel is within a specified fraction of a degree of the desired heading. The observer, who is watching a distant object across the pelorus, selects an instant when the vessel is steady and is on course. An alternative method is to have the observer call out "mark" when the relative bearing is steady, and the steersman note the heading. If the compass is swinging at the moment of observation, the observation should be rejected. The number of degrees between the desired and actual headings is added if the vessel is to the right of the course, and subtracted if to the left. Thus, if the course is 060° and the heading is 062° at the moment of observation, a correction of 2° is added to the bearing.
The instrument was named for one Pelorus, said to have been the pilot for Hannibal, circa 203 BC.
Harold Gatty described the use of a pelorus by Polynesians before the use of a compass. In equatorial waters the nightly course of stars overhead is nearly uniform during the year. This regularity simplified navigation for the Polynesians using a pelorus, or dummy compass:
[Arabs] divided the horizon into 32 points. These points were derived from fifteen stars which rose at approximately equally spaced points of the eastern horizon. The setting points of these stars on the western horizon gave them another fifteen points and north and south brought the total to thirty two.
These accomplished navigators [Polynesians] had names for one hundred and fifty stars. They knew the point on the horizon where each of these rose, and the time at which it did so. They knew the islands which each passed over.
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