Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Pocket Compass, USS Constitution 


Copper encased handheld compass with paper card compass rose

Title: Pocket Magnetic Compass, USS Constitution (1797)
Accession #: NHHC 2014.058.001
Circa: 1800's
Size: 2.5 x 1.5"
Medium: Copper, Paper, Glass
Location: Headquarters Artifact Collection, Naval History and Heritage Command

One circular pocket compass. The compass is a magnetic compass set into a copper case with a removable copper lid. The inside of the compass has a compass rose with a pocket card with eight points and a decorative fleur-de-lis at North. Around the needle pivot the face is marked // Spencer & Co. III. Minories. London //   

This compass was used by Lieutenant Nathaniel Haraden in the early 1800s while serving as the Sailing Master aboard the frigate USS Constitution. He was serving aboard the Constitution during the 1804 battle with the Tripoli pirates in the Mediterranean. Progressing to the rank of Lieutenant in 1807 and then to Master Commandant in 1816, he assisted Commodore Tingey with the rebuilding of the Washington Navy Yard after the burning of Washington in 1814.


Copper compass shell exterior view
Published: Mon Mar 30 10:06:13 EDT 2020