Edward Samuel Ritchie (1814-1895) was the most innovative instrument maker in nineteenth century America, making important contributions to both science and navigation. The business he began in 1850 became E. S. Ritchie & Son in 1866 and E. S. Ritchie & Sons in 1867, and moved from Boston to Brookline in 1886. Following Ritchie’s death, his sons transferred the scientific
instruments to the L. E. Knott Apparatus Co., while retaining the nautical
instrument line. The firm was incorporated in 1939. It is today located in
Pembroke, Massachusetts, and known as Ritchie Navigation.
Ritchie began making compasses for the U.S. Navy soon after the start of the Civil War, and within a few years he had developed the first successful liquid compass–a feat that has been described as the first major improvement in
compass technology in several hundred years. Ritchie compasses soon became Navy standard. They were also widely used by American merchant mariners.
Ref: Deborah Warner, "Compasses and Coils: The Instrument Business of Edward S. Ritchie," Rittenhouse9 (1994): 1-24.