Dry Card Box Compass for Small Boat

Dry card compass in a nice dovetail box. These compasses were sold by marine hardware dealers for use in dories and other small boats; sometimes this size compass is called a dory compass.

Thomas Laughlin started his marine hardware business in Portland in 1836. His son, Thomas S. Laughlin, joined the company as an apprentice shipsmith in 1857, by which time the business had expanded to making custom iron parts for ships. In 1860, he became a partner and the business was known as Thomas Laughlin & Son. By 1900 the company had grown to six buildings, and employed over 100 people. It had its own block shop, galvanizing facility, forge shop, woodworking shop and machine shop. Railroad tracks connected it to the rail net and the business was selling marine hardware all over the world.

Without the "& Son" name, this compass could have been a pre-1860 product, and may not in fact have been made by Thomas Lauglin, as it would have been easy to print a compass rose and apply it to a generic compass.

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Geographic Location: 
Portland, Maine