Smithsonian - National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Physical Sciences Collection - Navigation

Browse Makers | Browse Instruments | Index


Dry Card Compass - click to enlarge

Dry Card Compass - click to enlarge

Dry Card Compass - click to enlarge

Click image to enlarge.

Dry Card Compass

Catalogue number:

"J. BALL. PATENT" and "Engraved by W. HOOKER New York"

diameter 7.25 inches

This is a model for the mariner’s compass with glass bowl for which Jonathan Ball received a patent in 1835. It can be used as a tell-tale compass because the card is legible from above and below. This model is probably a reconstruction, made after the original was destroyed when the U.S. Patent Office burned in 1836. The Patent Office transferred it to the Smithsonian in 1926. William Hooker was an engraver who also sold charts and instruments for nautical use.

Ref: "For an Improvement in the Mariners’ Compass; Jonathan Ball, Buffaloe [sic], Erie County, New York, March 6," Journal of the Franklin Institute 16 (1835): 234-235.

Further Information: