A full service instrument shop specializing in sales and service of marine compasses. Suppliers of genuine replacement parts for Danforth, Aquameter, Ritchie, Kelvin White, Dirigo and Star compasses

 19th Century Ritchie Compasses

Patented by E.S.Ritchie, the earliest types of liquid filled compasses were filled with an alcohol and water mixture to dampen the motion of the compass card. Alcohol was used in order to keep the liquid from freezing.The hand painted dials had to be painted with a special egg based paint that was also patented by E.S.Ritchie. To compensate for expansion and contraction of the fluid due to temperature changes, he also patented an expansion chamber that is housed in the base of the compass.

This compass was cleaned on the interior, had the exterior stripped and repainted , and had new gaskets and was filled with new fluid. The bezel screws which were a special 12-30 thread were re-machined. The top ring was repainted as it would have looked when it was originally manufactured.


1880 liquid filled Ritchie compass1880 liquid filled Ritchie compassAn excellent example of an early liquid filled Ritchie compass in "original" condition. The interior lettering and graduations were hand painted using a special egg based paint that would stand up to the alcohol and water mixture that it was filled with. This compass needed only a cleaning and new gaskets to put it back into good working order. Brought to us in March of 2000 from Mystic Seaport Museum.

The compass was manufactured in 1880 and used aboard the Yacht "Dauntless"

1880 E.S Ritchie Compass1880 E.S Ritchie Compass
Detail of hand painted Ritchie Compass DialDetail of hand painted Ritchie Compass Dial
7-1/2" Ritchie7-1/2" RitchieSerial number 8155 was manufactured in 1875 by E.S. Ritchie and sold to TS & JD Negus in New York. This compass was used aboard the whaling ship Josephine built in Bath Maine in 1877. The Josephine sailed out of New Bedford Massachusetts. The compass was brought to our shop in 2006 for minor restoration.

Very Early  Antique 6" Ritchie CompassVery Early Antique 6" Ritchie CompassA very nice example of one of the earliest liquid filled compasses made by the company that patented the liquid filled compass in 1862. According to the original serial number records at E.S. Ritchie this compass was manufactured in 1890 and sold on August 28th of that year to Troop & McLauchlan, a ship chandler on Water St in Saint John, New Brunswick Canada. A close look at the Ritchie serial number log (click on the photo below to see the original entry.) also shows when this compass came back to the factory for repair, the last time for the Harris Co. of Portland, Maine in 1934. This compass was acquired by the owner of E.S Ritchie in 2009 and brought back to the factory for preservation. Extreme care was taken to preserve the original hand painted dial as well as preserving the original egg paint on the interior of the compass. The gaskets were replaced with the original gum rubber material and the compass was refilled with the proper alcohol/water mixture.

This very rare piece of nautical history will be acompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the owner of E.S. Ritchie as well as copies of the original patents that pertain to its unique nature.

This compass sold July 2010.

Very Early Ritchie 7" CompassVery Early Ritchie 7" CompassA fine example of a very early liquid filled compass from the inventer of the liquid filled compass, E.S Ritchie. The extremely low serial number 1231 is recorded in the serial number logs at the E.S Ritchie factory indicates that this compass was manufactured in the 1870's. This compass is of the earliest designs with a hand-painted float dial. This very detailed compass rose is painted with the patented egg paint that was used exclusively for compasses that were filled with an alcohol/water mixture that E.S Ritchie patented. The compass is mounted in the original mahogany box. All of the seals were replaced at Viking instruments and the compass was refilled with the proper alcohol/water mixture. The compass will be accompanied with a letter of authenticity. SOLD

Antique "Screw Bezel"  Compasses by E.S.RitchieAntique "Screw Bezel" Compasses by E.S.Ritchie
Antique 5" Ritchie CompassesAntique 5" Ritchie Compasses