NavisphPre Celestial Globe

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The Navisphere was designed to be "a nautical instrument of extremely simple construction and easily handled, by means of which nearly all the complex nautical problems may be solved in a few minutes, and without calculation, or, at least, with very little calculation." It consists of a celestial globe that shows only the brightest stars, with a brass superstructure (the Metrosphere) that represents the horizon and two meridians. Henri DeMagnac, a captain in the French navy who was interested in the problems of navigation, probably came up with the original design. Frederic William Eichens, an instrument maker in Paris, obtained a French patent for it in 1878, an American patent in 1881, and other patents in England and Germany. The instrument bears the inscription "NAVISPHERE / DE / . . . / F. W. EICHENS CONSTR / E. BERTAUX, ÉDITEUR / PARIS."
Ref: F. W. Eichens, "Celestial Globe," U.S. patent #247,811.
H. De Magnac, "Le navisphere - instrument nautique," Revue Maritime et Coloniale 61 (1879): 598-616.
H. De Magnac, Le Navisphere: instrument nautique, instruction pour son usage (Paris, 1881); and The Navisphere (England, 1881).
Currently not on view
Physical Description
iron (overall material)
paper (overall material)
silver (overall material)
average spatial: 21.9 cm; 8 5/8 in
overall: 13 in x 9 in; 33.02 cm x 22.86 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
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Data Source
National Museum of American History