Rare U.S. Navy Antique Ship Navigational Pelorus D


Stock Number: #364


A Rare High Quality WWII Antique Ship Navigational Pelorus Dial by Lionel Corporation (circa 1895).

Magnificently made navigational instrument called a Pelorus which is used to take relative bearings in determining a vessels position. Research states that such a unit was furnished to battleships, cruisers, gun boats, and destroyers during WWII. A Pelorus was usually placed at each end of the bridge.

This instrument appears to be made of a heavy weight metal and features a clean and protected black & white card, secured under the approx. 8.5 inch Pelorus dial glass with the words "MADE BY THE LIONEL CORPORATION, NEW YORK" The dial itself is graduated in degrees to conform to the compass card. Two vanes, which appear to be in very good working order, are present for taking bow and beam bearings.

Research tells us...Since numeric degrees started to be used on a compass card around 1880, this number may be take as the date of manufacture, hence, 1895. The word Pelorus comes from the name of the guide who directed Hannibal's army from Carthage to Rome in 218 B.C. This outstanding example consists of a compass rose with North as the zero indicator of an 8 pointed star with the cardinal points having directional coordinates "lettered" that are further subdivided by diamond and arrow shaped markings which divides the circle into 32 points, each of 11 1/4 degrees. The outer two circles are in increments of one degree, with a notation each ten degrees. Originally, it was designed to be mounted in a pedestal on the vessel's bridge or housed in a case. There are two sighting vanes which are aimed at a terrestrial object with the bearing read off the compass card. These bearings are compared to the vessel's compass heading which then gives the magnetic bearing to the object. Bearings of two objects, taken sequentially, will fix the vessel's position. Similar observations of a rising or setting sun when on the prime vertical allow for determining compass error.

Condition: The compass rose is bright and clean, the outer rings show some cosmetic wear and scratches, consistent with said age. The vanes appear to be complete and are in working order. They too have signs of their years in service however the genuine patina offers a very natural honest appeal to this unusual piece. Serious collector's who seek such fine nautical instruments will appreciate this and make it a part of their museum collection.


Diameter of outer ring approximately 11 inches

Diameter of compass rose approximately 8.5 inches

Height, when vanes extended is approx. 6.5 inches

Weight 9 pounds





Purchase Information

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