Vintage Compasses
Vintage Compasses
Why does a vintage compass face have E and W backwards? For {$keyword}

I have seen a small vintage magnetic compass with N and S on the face in the correct locations but E and W backwards. The degrees marked around the face also go round the wrong way. The compass is hand-held and is fitted in a wooden case with a lid that folds open and has a sighting line on it. There is no mirror in the case and no space for one. Why?

The reversed E-W is not unique to vintage compasses. Modern compasses can be made the same way. If you line yourself up with the N-S line, the reversed E-W compass card then tells you which direction you are facing.

So if you were steering a boat, the reversed E-W tells you which direction the boat is heading.

Another way to illustrate is to hold the compass so that you are facing due north. Start turning to your right. As you are turning right, you are facing more towards the east. Because the needle keeps pointing north, the E on the left side of the compass card moves closer to the needle. You can now read directly off the compass card that you are facing easterly.

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