Original WWI Era U.S. Navy Submarine Compass MkIV No.20 in Brass Housing

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Here we have a very nice example of an early U.S. Submarine Compass from the WWI Era. Unlike traditional surface warfare, under water there was nothing to guide a vessel except for a compass. These were usually stored in a chest, and placed on gimbal mounts which allowed the housing to tilt freely. The housing on this example looks to be brass or bronze, and has two attachments on the side for mounting into the gimbals.

The outside of the top housing reads as follows:


We believe that 1935 is the serial number of the compass, and not the date. We unfortunately have not been able to find much information on Naval compasses from the WWI Era. As underwater warfare was quite new at the time, changes were made relatively often, and we have found information on numerous different compasses from the WWI era, each one slightly different.

The compass in the housing measures about 8 1/2 inches across, with a height of 4 1/2 inches. The brass housing has matured to a lovely greenish patina due to around a century of exposure to air. The fabric compass card has degraded a bit, and there is oxidation on the central bell. It is not a sealed design like later compasses, which allows oxidation to occur.

The compass no longer is 'functional', most likely due to loss of magnetization. Many early magnets lose their "charge" over time, so the magnet no longer points in any particular direction. The central bearing may also be a bit dirty, so it does not spin freely.

A great display piece from the early days of Submarine warfare, ready to display!

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