Smithsonian - National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Physical Sciences Collection - Navigation

Browse Makers | Browse Instruments | Index


Liquid Compass - click to enlarge

Liquid Compass - click to enlarge

Click image to enlarge.

Liquid Compass

Catalogue number:

"DEAD BEAT" and "C.B. PATENT" and "No 11904" and "HUSUN" and H. HUGHES & SON, LTD LONDON, PATD GT BRIT. No 127135"

diameter 9 inches

This compass has a black metal bowl gimbal mounted in a mahogany box. Hughes trade literature describes it as having been "especially designed for the navigation of Yachts and Motor Craft, the rapid movements of which demand a compass of exceptional steadiness and sensitivity." To that end, it has a special expansion chamber that "precludes the formation of bubbles in the liquid." The needles are short, and made of cobalt-steel. The card is printed "by a new photographic process that eliminates discoloration." And patented damping filaments ensure the steadiness of the card.

British Patent #127,135 describes an "Aperiodic Magnetic Compass" made by attaching to the magnetic needle filaments of glass, wire, or other suitable non-magnetic material. This patent was granted in 1919 to George Campbell and Geoffrey Bennett, both of the Compass Department of the British Admiralty.

H. Hughes & Son, Ltd. was in business, as such, from 1903 to 1947.

Ref: Henry Hughes & Son, Ltd., Husun "Dead-Beat" Compasses for Yachts (London, 1939).

H. L. Hitchins and W. E. May, From Lodestone to Gyro-Compass (New York, 1953), pp.150-152.

Further Information: