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Pocket compass

Date: 19th century
20 x 62 x 58 mm
Medium: Wood, glass, metal, paper, ink
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Compass
Object No: 00040568

User Terms

    This mahogany-cased pocket compass was made in the 19th century. A compass is a navigational instrument used to establish direction relative to the magnetic poles of the Earth.
    SignificanceThe compass is typical of small portable compasses carried by 19th century surveyors.
    HistoryOne of the earliest recorded uses of the magnetic compass was reported in the 12th century in the English Channel. Prior to the introduction of the compass, navigation at sea was primarily determined by the sighting of landmarks. With the gradual perfection of compasses and associated understanding of the effects of magnetic variation and deviation, the compass became a primary instrument for navigation on both land and sea.

    The pocket compass was developed from a need to increase portability, resulting in a model that could be carried and operated in one hand.

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