In 1850, physicist Edward S. Ritchie began developing the first US manufactured marine compass using his revolutionary liquid-filled design. Beginning with an order of 26 compasses by the US Navy in 1861, and entirely through word-of-mouth, E.S. Ritchie & Company had sold over 30,000 to merchant vessels by the year 1900. (A model of Edward’s first liquid-filled compass remains on display at the Museum of Science in London, the only foreign product so honored.)
An early and sustained focus on research and development.
After receiving numerous awards at US and world expositions, E.S. Ritchie continued its unrelenting innovation throughout the 20th century. Technologies developed during World War II — including spherical bowls, internal gimbals and lightweight aluminum dials — made Ritchie compasses more stable and accurate. The company was purchased in 1951 by the Marine Compass Company founded by Louis A. Sherman, which focused on producing smaller instruments for commercial and fishing vessels as well as the emerging yachting markets.
Extending our innovation to serve evolving markets.
In the 1960s, acrylic domes and high-strength plastics replaced glass domes and metal castings to make them stronger and lighter. Since the 1990s, Ritchie Navigation has developed a wealth of products for additional applications including on-road and off-road vehicles, sea kayaks, small dinghies, day sailors and camouflaged options for outdoor sports enthusiasts.
Owned and privately held by the Sherman family to this day, our company continues to be the marine industry leader for the manufacturing of recreational and commercial magnetic compasses.