Magnetic compasses, which use the Earth's magnetic field to determine direction
Gyroscopic compasses, which use the principle of gyroscopic precession to determine direction
GPS compasses, which use GPS signals to determine direction
Optical compasses, which use a sighting mechanism to determine direction by aligning an object with a fixed point.
The magnetic compass is believed to have been first invented by the Chinese during the Han dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE). However, it was not used for navigation until the Song dynasty (960-1279 CE), when Chinese navigators began using it to navigate ships at sea. The magnetic compass was first brought to Europe by traders during the 12th century, and it quickly became an essential tool for navigation.
During the Age of Exploration, the magnetic
compass played a crucial role in the success of voyages of discovery, such as those of Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan. In the centuries that followed, the compass was improved upon and combined with other navigational tools, such as the sextant and chronometer, to allow for more accurate navigation at sea.
In the early 20th century, the magnetic compass was replaced by more advanced navigation systems such as radar and GPS
An uncommon late 19th century lacquered brass portable sundial by T & H doublet, with compass plateau supported on levelling screws and pivoting chapter ring with silvered face engraved with the instrument maker's details. In mahogany box (distressed) 16…
An antique Swiss pocket or travelling Compensated barometer, late 19th century, with maker's mark for W.Ecker, Lucerne, in a leather bound and silk lined travelling case and comprising a barometer compass and mercury thermometer, length 8.5 cm
A small Victorian pocket barometer, circa 1889, in gilded brass having a cream metal dial and a compass to the reverse, and inscribed Dr J F Ruddall 24.23.89; encased in an emerald silk and velvet lined leather box. Height 3 cm. Diameter 6 cm