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Click to enlargeVery Rare Ritchie Telltale Compass

By far one of the most rare and interesting Ritchie compasses that we have ever seen. This telltale compass was manufactured in September 1874 and sold to the U.S. Navy (See the image of the serial number books at E.S. Ritchie below). The compass was repaired in November 1883 as shown in the E.S. Ritchie serial number log book. Some years later it was then acquired by Frederick T. Adams to be used on his Yacht Sachem. (See the letter of authentication from the descendants of Frederick Adams below). It was brought to us for service by the descendants of Frederick T. Adams. We disassembled the compass and replaced the gaskets and fluid along with a light cleaning and this compass is back to working condition.

According to E.S. Ritchie and Sons this compass was quite possibly one of the first liquid filled telltale compasses ever made.

The design of this telltale is like no other telltale compass that we have seen. Most telltale compasses incorporate a pivot mounted in the glass with a compass card and float assembly sitting on the pivot, so the user is looking at the bottom of the float with the compass card mounted on the bottom of the float.

This compass has the pivot mounted in the "roof" of the compass, the compass float has positive buoyancy and is "floating" upside down and riding on the pivot that is pointing downward, the compass card is mounted on the float and facing down.


Click to enlargeRitchie Authentication LetterThis letter from E.S. Ritchie and Sons, Inc. indicates that this compass was in the first batch of telltale compasses recorded in the ledger books at E.S.Ritchie

Click to enlargeImage of Serial Number RecordsThis image of the serial number books at E.S. Ritchie & Sons indicates that this compass was manufactured on September 20 1874 along with 10 other telltale compasses, that were sold to the U.S. Bureau. (U.S. Navy) It also indicates that the compass was brought back for repair on November 30 1883. You will also note that the compass is printed with the Nov. 1883 on the compass float.

Click to enlargeImage of Back of CompassThe top of the compass (when mounted properly)is stamped with the serial number as well as patent dates that refer to patented innovations in the compass.

Click to enlargeLetter Of Authentication From Family of F.T. AdamsA Brief History of U.S. Navy Telltale Compass no. 7954 as told by the great-great nephew of Frederick T. Adams

This E. S. Ritchie Telltale Compass (no.7954) was manufactured in 1874 and sold to the U. S. Bureau on Sept. 20th, 1874. It was repaired by Ritchie in Nov.1883 and was later on my great, great uncle's (Frederick T. Adams) schooner the yacht Sachem

"Fred. T. Adams, who was vice-commodore since 1895, is the present commodore, his flagship being the schooner Sachem, a famous vessel, designed by Edward Burgess, and winner of the Goelet Cup in 1887-88. Mr. Adams has acted as commodore during Mr.Gould’s absence in Europe, and is in every way qualified for the position. No better sailor ever walked a deck. He is a navigator as well as a seaman, and popular to boot among his brother yachtsmen." (snip-it from The Origin and History of the Atlantic Yacht Club)

When my great, great uncle F.T. Adams gave up his beloved Yacht Sachem ( I believe in the early 1900's ) many of the personal belongings from the yacht were stored on the third floor at his summer estate located on the Hudson river in Coxsackie, N.Y. things such as dinnerware, silverware, ships clocks, ships bells and this compass among others. During my youth I would visit for the summer often, sometimes playing and (snooping) on the third floor (there were all kinds of cool things up there!) After having "discovered" the compass I started asking my Grandmother and Father about it and was told that Uncle Fred had obtained it from a friend at The Brooklyn Navy Yard not far from The Atlantic Yacht Club. In the late 1960's, while up on the third floor with my Father I asked him if I could have the compass and he said I could. It went home with us to Darien, Ct. and moved to Florida with me in 1987, where it has been ever since, until Sept 5th 2012 when it started it's trip to the Boston, Mass. area for authentication and refurbishment where it now resides.

Click to enlargeYacht Sachem
History of the Atlantic Yacht Club
Frederick T. Adams, Commodore Atlantic Yacht Club
Sachem Wins Race
F.T.Adams Yacht Sachem
F.T. Adams on the Yacht Sachem