Would I buy this Ritchie Compass - yes, with both arms wrapped protectively around it as I looked for the owner (garage sale find, I can barely believe my good fortune in finding something so beautiful and unique). A COMPASS. An armful. Great weight.
Found a web page with great examples from this era Viking Instrument and Photo. They wrote that "early liquid filled Ritchie compasses were ... Patented by E.S.Ritchie, the earliest types of liquid filled compasses were filled with an alcohol and water mixture to dampen the motion of the compass card. Alcohol was used in order to keep the liquid from freezing.The hand painted dials had to be painted with a special egg based paint that was also patented by E.S.Ritchie. To compensate for expansion and contraction of the fluid due to temperature changes, he also patented an expansion chamber that is housed in the base of the compass." Viking has several very good examples of this style and era of compass in the original containers.
Enjoy the pictures. I enjoyed the discovery.