A rare large nautical pattern prismatic azimuth compass in hardwood case from the ship Snake, retailed by Legris, Havre c1865

Rare Antique Mariners Prismatic Azimuth Compass c1865


Mariners compass comprising hand-drawn 3½” floating dry card with 360 degree nautical pattern divided into degrees and further divided to 1/2 degree increments, fleur-de-lys to north, marked with the retailer’s details to centre, “Legris au Havre.” The card, paper mounted on celluloid-type layer, suspended on brass pivot, the verso with magnetic bar and balancing sealing wax. Silvered brass bowl, vertically sliding focus prism, fold down caged wire sight.

The whole contained within a turned olivewood drum-form case with push fit lid, inner lid with lacquered brass name plate with engraved, red-marked name “Snake.”

Condition: Inspected, checked and conserved, in very good condition. Card clean and flat, swings to north easily. Silvered reflector with some losses. Original glass with some casting flaws and minor abrasions. The prism with minor chip to periphery of objective face, the prism housing the subject of a small (invisible) repair.

The French polished outer case with a repair to side, minor marks, impressions and original patination.

Comments: Azimuth compasses are used for taking bearings from a ship. They therefore have vertical sights on top and the compass card is divided into degrees as well as the points of the compass. This dry card compass is divided from 0 to 360 degrees, with the numbers printed in reverse, so that they can be read when viewed through the prismatic sight.

There are a number of contemporary vessels recorded and named “Snake,” one such commissioned into the Royal Navy. It is most likely that this was carried aboard a commercial or privately owned vessel, perhaps a yacht, the small brass plate to the inner lid a typical non-military embellishment.

A rare and very attractive antique mariners compass.

Dimensions: 4½” diameter x 3” deep

Stock No: SI1924

Price: £750







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