China Sea Trading Company, Maritime Antiques, Salvage, Curiosities


Found here in Maine, this is a salty old flotation compass from the time when the mariner’s compass was read by the points, not degrees.

The compass is five inches across the top with a four-inch card. It still contains at least half of its fluid and works well. The box mount is 7.5 inches square. The compass is mounted to stand up from the box on gimbals. The unit stands 4.5 inches tall.

I was tempted to clean and restore this old timer, but you may want to leave it as is. The brass and bronze have a light patina of sea green. The box has seen a lot of sea time and was, at some point, reinforced with bronze screws.

You can bet it has seen many a fish come over the rail. I believe it dates from 1900 to 1915.

China Sea Trading Company, Maritime Antiques, Salvage, Curiosities



Robet Merrill left New England for New York in the early years of the 19th century. He built a business that became one of the great marine supply houses of the 1800’s. His compasses were aboard ships from the humblest fishing sloop to the great clippers. Here is one of his oldest compasses to survive to the present day.

It has a wood bowl, seven inches (18 cm) in diameter, with a five-inch (131 cm) mica and paper dry card. The box is painted a deep green, is hand dove-tailed, and measures 10 inches square by 6.25 inches tall.

The original top is missing. The compass is fully functional and points true. The wood bowl has an age crack down one side. Age cracks are common since most of these wood bowls were turned in green, uncured wood. Few of these compasses survive today.

This instrument dates to the period 1840 to 1850 and is completely original. I will add a new cover for shipping.

A fine example of a typical working ship’s compass of the early to mid-1800s.

China Sea Trading Company, Maritime Antiques, Salvage, Curiosities


Before the modern marine compass was developed, the simply dry card was the mainer’s guide.

This one is made by John Bliss & Company of New York, founded in 1835 and in operation until 1956. This compass was made around.1870. It has a hand dove-tailed box that holds a brass bowl 4.75 inches (10.5 cm) in diameter. The box is 7.5 inches square and five inches tall. It is well-worn but sound.

It could have been a fisherman’s compass or saw service in a dory or whaleboat. The original top is missing as is usual with these, but displays fine without it. I have neither altered nor restored it. A nice, untouched piece of marine history.

China Sea Trading Company, Maritime Antiques, Salvage, Curiosities


Wilcox-Crittenden Co. of Middletown Conn. made this little box compass probably 60 years ago.

This style was used aboard lobster and fishing vessels, yachts and small craft. During WWII some were used in the lifeboats of merchant ships.

This one apears to be unused and is in excellent shape. Some of the liquid used to dampen the compass card has evaporated but the compass still works fine.

The mahogany box measures 4.5 inches square by 3.25 inches tall. The compass card is 2 inches in diameter. The box is complete with its top.

China Sea Trading Company, Maritime Antiques, Salvage, Curiosities


This small, wonderful yacht binnacle is in pristine condition. Made of brass with a fine chrome plate, it is complete with storm hood for foul weather conditions, and an added battery-powered light in the cap of the binnacle top.

The compass was made by the Hand Company of Baltimore and Philadelphia, probably in the 1930s. It measures five inches across (13 cm) with a four-inch (10 cm) card.

The binnacle, with its original Perkins Marine label in place, stands 12 inches tall including a one-inch mahogany base. It has a width of 9.5 inches at its widest point.

This is perhaps the finest small yacht binnacle of its kind that we have offered.