Hughes Liquid Compass

This compass has a black metal bowl gimbal mounted in a mahogany box. The inscriptions read "DEAD BEAT" "C.B. PATENT" "No 11904" "HUSUN," and H. HUGHES & SON, LTD LONDON, PATD GT BRIT. No 127135."
Hughes trade literature describes this form as having been "especially designed for the navigation of Yachts and Motor Craft, the rapid movements of which demand a compass of exceptional steadiness and sensitivity." To that end, it has a special expansion chamber that "precludes the formation of bubbles in the liquid." The needles are short, and made of cobalt-steel. The card is printed "by a new photographic process that eliminates discoloration." And patented damping filaments ensure the steadiness of the card.
British Patent #127,135 describes an "Aperiodic Magnetic Compass" made by attaching to the magnetic needle filaments of glass, wire, or other suitable non-magnetic material. This patent was granted in 1919 to George Campbell and Geoffrey Bennett, both of the Compass Department of the British Admiralty.
H. Hughes & Son, Ltd. was in business, as such, from 1903 to 1947.
Ref: Henry Hughes & Son, Ltd., Husun "Dead-Beat" Compasses for Yachts (London, 1939).
H. L. Hitchins and W. E. May, From Lodestone to Gyro-Compass (New York, 1953), pp.150-152.
Currently not on view
Object Name
liquid compass
date made
H. Hughes & Son, Ltd.
overall: 9 in; 22.86 cm
place made
United Kingdom: England, London
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Measuring & Mapping
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Additional Media

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