Kelvin, Bottomley & Baird Giant Ship's Threaded Nautical Compass

A very important and rare English dry card compass made by Kelvin, Bottomley & Baird is presented as a display. It is based on a design of a light weight dry compass card invented by Sir William Thomson, later Lord Kelvin of Largs. The huge compass is housed in a large bowl with bronze bezel, brass upper structure and lead crystal lower containment which holds oil as a ballast to keep the compass card level. The crystal is acid etched with the original maker's name, Kelvin & James White. The later was Kelvin's original partner from the time he began his first experiments with the magnetic compass which made him famous.

This compass is a larger version of the one that was from the Clipper Ship Flying Cloud that was offered at auction by Bonham's Nautical Auction in 2004 for $8000.00

It is only the second compass of this type that we have ever seen that was made to the Thomson design by anyone other than James White of Kelvin-White or Henry Hughes & Company, which was the last Kelvin organization before it became Kevin-Hughes. However, the design of this compass of Kelvin, Bottomley & Bard dates back to about 1903, and was likely made around 1913, well before Kelvin- Hughes was formally merged into Henry Hughes & Sons in 1947, and much later into Smith Industries. We suggest that it was made in 1913. (See company's history below)

THE CARD: The card is made from beautifully engraved paper. It is engraved with an elaborate Fleur des Lis at the North point with the number 958 on its side. The paper is cut, approximately every 20 degrees to allow for it to be suspended from the center pivot point by silk threads which are attached to six magnetized needles.

The compass rose shows the eight cardinal points and is further divided to 1/16 points and then to 32. On the outer perimeter are degrees that are graduated from 0 to 90 degrees for each quadrant. It measures 6 inches in diameter and has a finely made aluminum center cap which was a very expensive metal at that time.

This complex arrangement was supposed to reduce drag and make the compass less sensitive to the pitching, rolling and course variations of a ship.

COMPASS BOWL: The bowl is made from a bronze containment at the top with a lead crystal bowl below. It is mounted to a contemporary Mahogany display stand.

There is a lubber's line with arrow that marks the course to which the ship's head is pointing. There is a bronze bezel with two holders that accept the pinions of the compass bowl and serve as the means of attaching it to the display stand. There is no box with this compass.

Diameter of bowl 11 1/4" Diameter of card 10"

Depth of bowl 7"

BASE: 14? L x 10? W x 3/4? T Weight complete 18.5 Lbs