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Britain, Circa 1700

18TH CENTURY SILVER-MOUNTED LODESTONE

With loop handle, mounts pierced to form bands of stylized leaves, and an iron pole labeled "N-S" on the mounts. Engraved "I.C.".
Height .75". Length 1". Width .5".
Condition: Excellent as found. No apparent signs of restoration or repair.

  • Provenance:
    Christie's New York, Scientific Instruments, Sale #6306 'Gemini' Auction, 1986.
    The Kelton Collection of Marine Art & Artifacts.

    Notes:
    Lodestones were made of magnetite, a rare, naturally magnetized mineral ore (Fe3o4). They were used at sea for re-magnetizing compass needles, a custom referred to as "refreshing the needle". This was required from the invention of the compass in the 12th Century until the development of the permanently magnetized needle around 1760.

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