Compasses have been the tools at the heart of some incredible discovering, conflicts, and feats of discovery. Aesthetic in appearance, while many devices now automatically incorporate some form of compass or GPS, the humble compass is still heralded for its design. Smaller compasses make for a great memento or gift, while larger pieces can be used for striking decor and design details. Each compass will have its own story and history, from those used in times of war to those used on commercial ships or even by a boy scout in days gone by, and by purchasing an antique compass you keep a little piece of that history alive.
In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the best examples of antique compass currently for sale online.
Table of Contents
Different Types of Compass
There are a variety of different compass types which reflect the variety of uses compasses have had throughout history. Knowing the different types of compasses can help you to narrow down your search when looking for the perfect antique compass.
- Liquid Compass: Uses a magnetized needle or a card immersed in a fluid.
- Marine Compass: Also known as a card compass this type of compass features a needle with a fixed compass card that is mounted in a fluid. As you may have guessed by the name, this type of compass was most commonly used on boats.
- Prismatic Compass: This type of compass uses a glass prism or a lens.
- Base-plate Compass: This form of compass is most commonly used for orienteering and often includes a magnifying lens and ruler for map reading.
- Thumb Compass: A smaller version of the Base-plate compass that can be attached to the thumb.
- Solid State Compass: These are found in electronic devices.
- Qibla Compass: Used by Muslims to show the direction of Mecca
List of 50 Antique Compasses for Sale
We’ve scoured the internet to find an exciting list of antique compasses currently available for sale online. We’ve organized our list into convenient categories, to help you find what you’re looking for more easily.
I) Authentic Antique Compass
1. Nickel Plated Pocket Barometer Compass Compendium Retailed by Army & Navy COSL c1880
Features: Dual Concentric scaled dial. The upper part marked “Compensated,” the lower “A&N.C.O.S.L.”.
A nickel compass used by the army and Navy Co-operative Society Ltd. Dimensions is 2¾” long x 2½” wide x 1½” deep.
2. Georgian Gimballed Travel Compass by Gregory & Wright c1785
Material: Silver, Brass, and Card
Features: Curved crystal held within a silver-plated drum form case with two transit lock pins to a silver-plated brass base.
Turned polished fruitwood case having threaded lid lined with green felt. The bottom part has a fixed spigot has a removable two-sided fruitwood washer.
3. Antique Explorers Singers Patent Compass by Francis Barker c1870
Material: Card, Glass, Brass
Features: Floating dry card, Suspended on red gemstone, Sealed with sealing wax.
A brass compass marked with “Trade Mark London”, the dimensions given are 3″ diameter x 1″ deep.
4. Barometer Compass Compendium by Darton c1910
Material: Silver, Blue Steel, Glass
Features: The meteorological headings “Rain”, “Change” and “Fair” are displayed within its glass well kept frame
A compass from the 1910s with dimensions given as 2¾” wide x 1¼” deep. The compass is recorded by Francis Darton & Co with various addresses in London from 1834.
5. Antique French Brass Boat Compass (CP9)
Material: Brass with a shellac finish
Features: The compass is a small boat with the compass itself being displayed at the tip
A small brass boat-shaped compass dating back to the 20th century with the dimensions of 3×1.625 inches.
6. Heavy Antique New York T.S & J.D Negus Pelorus Nautical Maritime Navigational Aid Brass Instrument Dumb Compass Wood Dovetail Box Ref 20660
Material: Wood, Brass, Metal
Features: Compass is featured in its original New York Wood Dovetail box.
A compass dating back to the 1800s marked “T.S & J.D Negus” and “New York”. Dimensions given are bout 9 1/4″ tall X 11 1/2″ wide X 11 1/2″ deep.
7. Rare Antique French Pocket Compass
Material: Nickel Plated
Features: A standard compass shell, with a blue directional pointer.
A compass dating back to the 1920s, dimensions given are 38 mm (1.5″) in diameter
II) Antique Nautical/Maritime Compass
1. Vintage WWII Japanese Maritime Sunstar Liquid Compass W/ Original Box
Material: Wood, Card, Glass, Brass
Features: Original Box and large compass face
An original Japanese World War 2 compass in its original box.
2. Nautical Brass 1845 Dolland Marine Sundial Compass, Camping Compass Best for Gift
Material: Brass, Wood
Features: Large compass face, homemade from the 1940s
An original 1800s compass made from brass and wood. Dimension of the compass is Size: 4.9 x 3.5 Inches, Base Size: 6.9 x 3.9 Inches, Item Weight: 1.1 pounds.
3. Antique Nautical Maritime Ship Navigation Compass carved wooden case patina 782
Material: Wood, Brass
Features: Dark wooden box with E, Mclain carved into the base of the lid.
A brass-made compass dating back to the 1920s, with the dimensions measuring 4.5” by 4.5” by 3.5” tall.
4. Silver Nautical Sundial Compass with Wooden Box, Nautical Compass, Maritime Compass, Nautical Sundial, Maritime Gifts, Nautical Desk Decor
Material: Inox Metal, Glass, Wood
Features: Features a triangular design with an orange original wooden box.
A triangular compass dating back to the 1990s , dimensions of the compass are itself are height: 5cm, width: 12cm, depth: 12cm, length: 11cm. Dimensions of the box are height: 6cm, width: 17cm, depth: 17cm.
III) Vintage Pocket Compass
1. Victorian Pocket Barometer Travel Compendium c1890
Material: Wood, Brass, Glass
Features: Two Compasses and Compass Box
A pair of brilliant compasses with a thermometer, the dimensions are given for this package is Dimensions: 6¼” wide x 3¾” deep x 1″ high.
2. Antique Scouts of America Copper Compass Oath Maritime Vintage Device eagle
Material: Brass, Glass, Leather
Features: Compass is brass base with “Boy Scouts of America Compass” displayed on the lid front.
An original 1940s compass from the “Boys Scouts of America” with dimensions of weight: 0.220gm, ground diameter: 3.” Inches
3. Antique Maritime Compasses, Japanese Ship compass, Maritime Compasses, WW2, NAVY compass, Made in Japan
Material: Metal, wood, glass
Features: Original Box and fitted compass.
An original Japanese compass from WW2 with some wear dating back to the 1900-1940s.
IV) Antique Ship Compass
1. HUGE BEAUTIFUL IVER C WEILBACH COPENHAGEN SHIPS BOAT YACHT BINNACLE COMPASS
Material: Polished Brass, Glass
Features: The compass features an almost coffee flask design with orbs.
A cream color compass with orbs, in an almost steampunk design.
2. Vintage antique Sundial Nautical Compass, Home gift, Gift for Him, Nautical Christmas, Brass Sundial Compass
Material: Rosewood and Brass
Features: Multiple intricate features with clip box.
A well-designed brass antique vintage sundial compass.
3. Antique Marine Ships Brass Binnacle ~ Gimbal Compass by C.Plath Hamberg with Lamp ~ Nautical Man Cave Display Piece ~ Sailing Yacht Boat
Material: Brass, Glass
Features: Brass body with glass and card compass
A small lamp-style design compass with a top handle. Vintage from the 1900s with the dimensions of Height 17cm, Width 22cm, Depth 19cm, and Weight 1.6kg
4. Antique brass gimbal compass ship’s binnacle gimballed compass & wooden base good gift
Material: Brass, Wood, Glass
Features: Features a wooden bass with glass-covered compass made from brass
A well-designed handmade vintage compass, dimensions height: 4 inches, Width: 5 inches.
5. Antique replica brass & wooden gimbal compass 10″ ships binnacle gimballed compass father’s day gift, mother’s day gift
Material: Brass, Wood, Glass
Features: A tall compass, base made of wood, glass compass with brass fittings.
A replica brass & wooden gimbal compass standing 10″ tall
6. Original Large Wooden & Brass Binnacle Nautical Maritime Ship Compass
Material: Wooden Compass Navigation Equipment
Features: Very tall compass with wooden bass, brass cap, and glass screen for compass
A large antique compass. High-quality metal and wood with dimensions of 32 x 57 Inch Weight: 71 Kg.
7. Vintage Old Antique Marine Brass Ship Binnacle Magnetic Compass – Medium
Features: Tall steampunk looking compass with front-facing compass
A tall brass-made vintage old antique compass.
8. Vintage Old Antique Marine Brass Boat Binnacle Magnetic Compass Made In Japan
Features: A very large brass vintage Japanese compass.
A vintage antique Japanese brass compass.
9. Brass Ship Sextant Compass with Tripod Vintage Solid Antique Nautical Sailing Maritime Marine Navy Functional Decoration Gift
Features: Tall standing compass with 3 legs
A tall brass-made vintage old antique brass compass standing on three legs with multiple features on the head.
10. Military marine Soviet compass vintage 80s solid binnacle KM100-3 for boat yacht with a kerosene lanterns w / original wooden box
Features: Double chimney compass from the Soviet Miltary
A vintage metal soviet compass dating back to the 1800s. With all original pieces.
V) Antique military compass
1. Rare Vintage Soviet compass. Original. USSR
Material: Plastic, Brass, and Card
Features: Black center, yellow Headings, and Brass casing.
A vintage Russian compass in decent condition with a glass front and background.
2. Vintage Military Compass 1909 Original KOMPASS ORIGINAL ANTIQUE
Material: Glass, Brass, Card
Features: Blue north pointing hand, glass cover, and brass fittings
A original vintage military compass from the 1900s.
3. Map and compass Working compass Soviet Compass Military compass Compass with leather Made in USSR Old compass USSR compass Antique compass
Material: Metal, Plastic, Leather
Features: Leather strap, Metal Case, Plastic Cover
A small but antique compass from the USSR Soviet military.
4. Rare Aviation magnetic compass KI-11, Soviet military compass, motorboat compass, antique compass, military compass
Material: Metal, Glass
Features: Black metal with yellow heading markers.
A vintage dark rare original Soviet Miltary compass made from black steel with yellow markings.
5. Old compass, military compass, USSR compass, Russian compass, a souvenir from Russia
Material: Brass, Plastic, Glass, Metal, and Leather
Features: Leather strap with glass cover, plastic features, and metal headings pointer
An old compass from the USSR Russian military with leather straps. Old but in good condition.
6. Vintage 1940s Wrist Compass with Leather Strap Made in England
Material: Leather, glass, brass, card
Features: Leather strap, Glass cover, Brass Fittings, Card Face
An old wrist 1940s leather strap English compass. The compass is in good condition with some wear but still readable.
7. Type 1 WWII Japanese Aircraft Compass
Material: Metal, Glass
Features: Black Steel compass with yellow readings
A vintage 1990s Japanese world war II aircraft compass. Condition is good with some markings and wear around the base.
8. French Military Compass, Pocket Compass, Perfect Gift
Features: Nickel-Plated body with steel heading pointer, and card background.
An interesting french military pocket compass with a nickel frame. It is vintage from the 1900s.
VI) Vintage Miniature/Novelty Compass
1. HUGE BEAUTIFUL IVER C WEILBACH COPENHAGEN SHIPS BOAT YACHT BINNACLE COMPASS
Material: Polish Brass Frame, Glass, and Plastic
Features: Cream body with red and green plastic ball handles.
A vintage compass from a Copenhagen boat. It is a cynical compass.
2. Vintage Marbles Arms Brass Pin-On Compass Made in the USA
Features: Small brass compass with the black directional center card.
A black card-centered heading display with brass features to hold it together. A nice small piece of compass history from the USA.
3. Antique Miniature Novelty Silver Compass Fob
Material: Glass, Sterling Silver
Features: Silver frame in the shape of a ship steering wheel with a tiny heading display.
A tiny antique miniature novelty silver compass with a card head.
4. Antique Gold Plated & Agate Miniature Compass Charm Pendant, circa 1900
Material: Steel, and Silver, Gold plated
Features: Silver outer case, and miniature compass in the middle
A miniature compass charm pendant from the 1900s, gold plated with great charm.
5. Antique Victorian 10ct Gold Compass Pendant/Fob
Features: A miniature compass in the shape of a lantern
A miniature lantern-shaped antique compass pendant. It is 10ct gold and in good condition.
6. Antique Victorian Compass Fob Pendant & Gold Chain – Bamboo Design, Engagement Present, Anniversary Gift or Wife, Bride Birthday Surprise
Features: Antique Victorian compass fob pendant & gold chain
A miniature fob pendant in the shape of bamboo with a compass center.
7. Edwardian 9ct Gold Horseshoe Compass Pendant
Features: A small gold horseshoe pendant
A 9ct gold horse compass pendant. The compass is in good condition and looks great.
VII) Vintage Compass
1. Vintage Chinese Compass (CP12)
Material: “Potential Bone” with lacquer
Features: A small compass face in the center of a well-designed coin.
A very small and well-designed compass vintage Chinese coin with great close detail around the compass itself.
2. Antique Wood Cased Compass (CP2)
Material: Wood, Plastic and Card
Features: A almost wooden wallet with the compass on the left side
A vintage small antique wood-cased compass with the almost clear face of the compass.
3. Nautical Maritime Sailors Compass – Brass and glass form with spinning dial style compass as opposed to spinning needle above the compass
Material: Brass, Metal, Paper, Mixed Glass
Features: A brass bass with multiple colored compass face with center brass fitting.
A brass and glass form with spinning dial style compass.
4. Vintage Brass Compass, Nautical Compass, Compass with Wooden Box, Sun Compass, Nautical Gifts, Maritime Gifts, Nautical Decor, Desk Gifts
Material: Brass, Wood, Glass
Features: A small miniature compass, with a brass case, and a wooden “Sun Compass” box.
A small brass compass with a detailed box to come with it. The compass is lightweight and well maintained with a light red face.
5. Vintage Brass Cased Compass (CP11)
Material: Brass, steel
Features: 2.125 inches by 0.5 inches thick. Felt covering on the underside.
A 1960’s brass case compass in partially-working condition.
6. Vintage working Compass set in real Cornish Serpentine
Material: Metal, Cornish Serpentine Glass
Features: A almost marble look to the base of a compass at the very top.
7. Vintage working Compass set in Green Moss Agate
Material: Metal Agate
Features: A small Moss Gree Agate with a compass on top.
A stunning compass made from Green Moss agate with lovely dark green, light green, and white Ivory.
8. Antique Brass Push Button Sundial Compass with Leather Case and Chain – Push Open Compass – Steampunk Accessory – Antiquated Finish
Material: Brass, Leather, Glass
Features: A small compass in a case in brass with a sundial on top
A small vintage compass dating back to the 1940s with a leather case, brass case, and glass covering.
9. Vintage Compass Cufflinks Antique Made in Japan
Material: Brass, Metal
Features: Clear heading face with plastic black hands and brass casing.
A couple of small brass-cased compassed with black handle and white heading face.
10. Vintage Nickel Silver Pocket Compass (CP21)
Material: Nickel Silver, Brass and Glass
Features: Nickle Silver case with brass fittings, glass covering, and cream/white headings on the face.
A small but stunning vintage pocket watch from the 1930s, this watch is in good condition made from sturdy and strong material.
Compasses are fantastic decor pieces and can add a touch of nautical aesthetic to a space. Making for great conversation pieces, and with each item having its own fascinating history, compasses are more than just a simple object and can make great gifts too.