Exceptionally clean, late 1940's vintage E.S. Ritchie & Sons, Inc. gimbaled, liquid-filled brass compass made for the yachting market. The compass face is marked "RITCHIE" "BOSTON, U.S.A.", and the brass compass rim is engraved "E.S. RITCHIE & SONS, INC., 91704, BOSTON." Housed in a mahogany machine-dovetailed box with slide lid and thumb grip. 3" 1/2 gimbaled compass in good working order. The mahogany compass box measures 6" x 6" x 3" 1/2. Nice!
HISTORY Edward Samuel Ritchie (1814-1895) was the most innovative instrument maker in nineteenth century America, making important contributions to both science and navigation. The business he began in 1850 became E. S. Ritchie & Son in 1866 and E. S. Ritchie & Sons in 1867, and moved from Boston to Brookline in 1886. Following Ritchie’s death, his sons transferred the scientific instruments to the L. E. Knott Apparatus Co., while retaining the nautical instrument line. The firm was incorporated in 1939. It is today located in Pembroke, Massachusetts, and known as Ritchie Navigation.
Ritchie began making compasses for the U.S. Navy soon after the start of the Civil War, and within a few years he had developed the first successful liquid compass–a feat that has been described as the first major improvement in compass technology in several hundred years. Ritchie compasses soon became Navy standard. They were also widely used by American merchant mariners.