Ware Solar Compass

This model illustrates the key features of the "Mariner’s Time-Compass" for which Ralph Reeder received an American patent in 1847. The instrument bears the inscription, "Ralph Reeder Patentee, Cincinnati, Ohio. HENRY WARE, MAKER, CINCINNATI, O."
Scientific American reported that this instrument combines "three important uses." It shows "the local variation of the magnetic needle with unerring certainty," "the altitude of the sun, and thus enables the mariner readily to compute latitude." and "the true time" and thus "by the aid of the chronometer, shows the longitude." Despite journal's opinion that Reeder’s instrument "appears to be a practically useful invention," the Mariner’s Time-Compass was not a commercial success. The U.S. Patent Office transferred this model to the Smithsonian in 1926.
Henry Ware (1810-1885) was a leading instrument maker in Cincinnati.
Ref: Ralph Reeder, "Mariner's Time Compass," U.S. Patent #4,964 (1847).
"Improved Nautical Instrument," Scientific American 12 (1856): 4.
Currently not on view
Object Name
mariner's compass
date made
Henry Ware
overall: 15 in x 8 in; 38.1 cm x 20.32 cm
place made
United States: Ohio, Cincinnati
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
patent number
Measuring & Mapping
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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