The binnacle is simply the housing for the ship's compass. There are several variations to the housing dependent upon the size and/or style of the vessel. For large ships, the binnacle is usually a stand of sturdy mahogany with a top hood over the compass usually made of brass. With the introduction of iron-clad ship's the compass magnetic deviation increased and there was a need to compensate for the deviation by arranging iron near the binnacle. This developed the iron spheres or compensating magnets or compensating balls that are positioned on both sides of the compass. Often times these irons are painted red and green to signify the appropriate side of the ship the compass housing should face.
Researched & Compiled by Susan Donnelly