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Desk Compasses – Nautical Decor Item of the Day

July 27th, 2010

Brass Desktop Compass

Brass Desktop Compass


Course, heading, position, and track: these nautical words are so important that no sailor could have survived the open seas much less made epic journeys of discovery throughout history. Perhaps more than any other navigational instrument, it was the magnetic compass that gave meaning to these terms and kept intrepid seafarers on course. Today, the desk compass can make a statement about you and maybe even help keep your business and career tracking in the right direction.

Buying a desk compass

A favorite graduation and going-away gift idea, as well as a traditional groomsman gift, these collectibles are always welcome and cherished by the recipient. Today, the compass is given as a business promotional item as well. Whether antique or newly minted, the desk compass is a cherished possession for everyone. Perhaps you are among those who enjoy ancient or modern boating and sailing traditions, or maybe you just like the idea of knowing where you are headed in life.

The modern desktop compass looks and feels like the real thing, right off the bridge of a vessel. Its position on your desk is a constant reminder for you to stay the course and know your position. Whether or not you are in troubled waters, you are reminded of your bearing and course in a stunning display piece that stays with you at all times.

The best compass for your desktop or office wall is made of rich auburn mahogany and contains genuine brass fittings, with a glass cover. Some compasses are contained in an heirloom box, which add to their charm and mystique. Expensive ones contain gold or parquet. Occasionally they are accompanied by a clock or a thermometer and barometer. You can have your compass engraved with your business logo, your name, or even a favorite inspirational quote or a passage from the great writers, such as Thoreau, Emerson or Shakespeare.

Compass styles

As you search for the right compass, you will find many styles to choose from. Look for units called, Gimbal, sundial, alidade, helmet, and bridge.

Cost of desk compasses

Expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $1,000, with many affordable models available at specialty stores. There is a small but dedicated worldwide collector market for these instruments.

Compass features

Nearly all antique compasses and most modern ones bear the sign of the compass rose. The compass rose is the 32-pointed “rose” shaped graphic that signifies all navigational directions. The 32 points derive from the ancient symbols for the eight major winds, the eight half-winds and the sixteen quarter-winds. This distinctive diagram appeared on charts and maps since the 1300′s and makes the compass look and feel like the ones used in Mediterranean transportation at the dawn of the renaissance.

One distinctive style of military desk compasses is the lensatic compass. These units are still used in the US and other naval ships at sea. The lensatic unit is an ergonomic device that lets a naval officer look down at the compass and see the dial from a standing position rather than having to hover over the top. It makes a great addition to your compass for desktop navigation or as a conversation piece.

Don’t throw out your GPS just yet, but when you want to get in touch with the past, get an authentic looking desk compass and conquer the open sea.

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