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My transit uses a needle that is locked when not in use, the outside ring is divided into half degrees with a vernier used for minutes but that is close work and a magnifying glass is used to read the vernier. Early ships compasses had the compass directions down to 12 1/2 degrees as compass points if I remember correctly. The card is free to rotate inside the case, just like the needle does when unlocked. The primary difference is how they were read, Instead of reading the outer ring like my transit or my hand compasses, on a ship you read the card using the lubbers line as the index from the helm. Probably some early ship compasses used a needle, but not by the helmsman, it must have been early when compass cards became the norm.


Edited by shiloh
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I just went to the RMG Collections site and in the search line I typed compass.  They indicate over 2000 images are available.  Attached is the first one I found for the 18th century with a compass bowl of circa 1720 and the card being circa 1760.  I am sure you will find more in that file.




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