KELVIN & WILFRED O' WHITE
AMERICAN INSTRUMENT MAKERS


A very nice example of a Kelvin Wilfred O White/John E Hand Binnacle Compass from a
World War II Liberty Ship.
Made of cast bronze, with a ballast of lead to steady the compass when the ship is rolling.
The bottom has a mica covered , etched glass panel,  to allow light from below to illuminate the compass
but dim the light to protect the pilots night vision.
The center of the compass card has a "Sapphire Bearing" which rests and rotates
on a bearing pin.
Detailed information on this compass can be found in
the 1940's Blue Jackets Manual pages 462 through 467.

Wilfred O' White was born in Melbourne, Australia and was
a decendent of a shipbuilding family with a rich nautical history
that dated back to the 1600's.
Wilfred had traveled many times to Glasgow , Scotland as early
as 1842, and on one of his later trips, met up with the Scottish Lord Kelvin,
where he studied much of Kelvin's work on the magnetic compass, which
Kelvin had been developing as far back as 1870.
Wilfred moved to the United States in 1898, and married a woman
named Ruth Eldridge, the daughter of George Eldridge, who developed
the first tide and current tables in the U.S..
 Wilfred later became Kelvin's exclusive licensee of his
products in the United States, and as a result of their efforts
their products were adopted by the world's Navies.
After Kelvin's death in 1907, White was chosen to be Kelvin's exclusive
agent in the United States by Kelvin's successors & partners,
Kelvin, Bottolmy, & Baird.
The Kelvin & Wilfred O' White Company commenced operations
in 1918 in Boston , Massachusetts.
White was buying Kelvin's instruments from Scotland, and it
was reported that he had to pay full list price in advance.
This was very expensive and a thorn in Wilfred's side and ultimately
led him to develop his own designs and improvements, with the help
of such companies as
The Lionel Corporation, & John E Hand & Son,
which were marketed under the KWOW brand.
The Wilfred O' White company eventually sold out to the
Eastern Company which consolidated its operations with
Danfort's Marine Hardware first in Naugatuck, CT and then
moved the Danforth-White Division to Portland , ME in 1961.
Compasses continue to be made today under the
Danforth-White label.


Three more examples of the KWOW brand, standard US Naval 7 1/4" type
on the left side in ebonized bronze, and a Naval/Commercial type
in polished bronze on the right, both have lead ballast's at the inner base.
The left side Naval Compass was actually made by The Lionel Corporation
and marketed under the Kelvin Brand.
Lower photos, The "Constellation" another WWII Vintage
"CRYSTAL BALL STYLE HELMET BINNACLE"
Circa 1940's

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