Antique and Vintage Compasses

The magnetic properties of magnetite, the lodestone used in compasses, have been known for thousands of years, but it was not until the 12th century that Chinese navigators began using the mineral in compasses to help sailors find magnetic north. Early compasses consisted of a magnetized bar or needle floating in a dish of water. More advanced instruments placed the needle on a pivot so it hovered above a card bearing a compass rose, whose...Continue Reading