US NAVY COMPASS and Binnacle, Bronze, World War Two, all original
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This is a very rare and original US Navy compass from the Second World War. The solid bronze and brass binnacle stands a total of 58" tall and about 33" across at the arms. The binnacle has no identifying marks but the compass was made by Lionel Corporation in 1943. Inscription reads U.S. NAVY BUSHIPS NO. 1 COMPASS MARK 1 MOD. 1 13483 1943 THE LIONEL CORPORATION N.Y. Compass serial number matches mounting ring serial number.
A fellow ebayer who collects and restores large ship compasses wrote that this is a MK VII binnacle by Ajax Engineering Company of Chicago. He dates it to 1942.
I bought this from a Pensacola based antiques dealer about 25 years ago. He got it from a salvor and believed it was from a ship broken up at the Ingalls Yard in Mississippi. I have not been able to identify the ship but am working on it. These beautiful binnacles were usually painted gray and mounted on the bridge just forward of the wheel. This one has had the paint removed and has been buffed. The large compensating arms and balls were used to compensate for the ship's magnetic field.
This compass and binnacle is almost completely intact. There are a few tiny components missing - a thumb screw on the front window, one of the three hold down brackets, and a pin to hold the window upright. Everything else is there.
Because of size and weight this is for local pickup only in Port Charlotte, Florida. The balls and cover can be removed but it still takes two men to lift and move the base.
I am a maritime historian and devotee of all things maritime. If you can shed light on this or similar items I would love to hear from you.
Ebayer craftmasterytb sent this info. He collects and restores large binnacles and compasses:
I have never had any luck with serial numbers as each shipyard would have a contract with the Navy to build so many ships. So the shipyard would order the binnacles for the class of ship they were building in lots from Lionel, Ajax Engineering, A. Lietz, Negus Ritchis and others who manufactured them. The only way I have been able to identify my binnacles was the provenience paperwork and photos that came with it. I can tell you two things about your binnacle, one is if the quadrantal spheres (large corrector spheres) are the original ones, the binnacle came off of a large ship (Battleship, Heavy Cruiser, Troop Transport, etc.) as they needed those kind of corrector spheres to offset the quadrantal deviation (NE, SE, SW, NW) caused by the magnetism of massive steel put into the ship. Also Ajax Engineering built the beefiest binnacles of all the MK VII's during WWII. They were a little "over engineered" to take a beating. They and the Lionel Co.'s binnacle were almost exactly alike. I had contacted the now defunct Todd shipyard Co. in trying to get information on binnacle purchases with no luck as they destroyed all their old contracts (Todd built the most ships in multiple yards on both coasts during WWII).