For over 130 years each compass manufactured
by E.S. Ritchie & Sons, Inc. was recorded by serial number in
hand written ledgers. These ledgers are still maintained at the
Ritchie factory, shown above, located in Pembroke, MA USA.
The first successful liquid dampened compass
was awarded a U.S. Patent in 1860. It is just one of the compasses
that we see highlighted in company literature dating back to the
formation of E.S. Ritchie and Sons.
Early compass dials were hand painted using egg white based paint
for the background and India ink for the graduations. This photo
shows three different types of early float chamber dials. Today's
dials are printed using modern lithographic processes on extremely
light aluminum or composite dials.
Ritchie manufactured all the US Navy standard compasses for over
forty years. The dial on the left shows the prominent float chamber
which reduced weight on the pivot, reducing wear and greatly
improving performance. The four vertical rods are actually bundles
of needle magnets which gave this compass the power to lock on to
Ritchie Compasses have won many awards for design and
engineering excellence in the past 150 years. An early Ritchie
liquid filled compass with a floating dial is exhibited in the
Albert Museum of Science and Industry in England, proudly displayed
along with a collection of nautical instruments created by the
famous Lord Kelvin.