Cousins's Curse

In the September 1955 edition of Meccano Magazine Mr. F.W.Cousins introduced the reconstruction of Mr. Lanchester to the Meccano fan society.

Skillfully he mixed facts, fiction and fatherland to "prove" that the Chinese did not invent the magnetic compass - no further comment from my side...

The Riddle of the South-seeking Chariot

An interesting model is inconspicuously displayed in the Science Museum’s exhibition that treats of the art and principles of navigation. It represents the South-seeking Chariot, which was possibly used by the Yellow Emperor Huang Ti in the 64th year of his reign. The Yellow Emperor was one of three great Chinese Emperors of an almost legendary period and his reign is dated in Chinese story at about 2634 B. C. He is said to have used this famous navigational device to guide his armies over the vast steppes leading to the south. To the Chinese the south was more important than the north, because to them where the Sun stood highest there was the centre of life and light.


Now a word about the oft repeated legend of the invention of the magnetic compass by the Chinese. Mr. George Lanchester, whose solution of the problem of the South-seeking chariot I have presented, delivered a learned address to the China Society on 3rd February 1947. In this he directed the attention of his listeners to a lecture by Dr. J. B. Kramer, an eminent electrical engineer, on the history of magnetism. Dr. Kramer makes this very forceful statement. „Where are the manuscripts in which the Chinese lay claim to the honour of having discovered the magnet? There are none, and there never existed any writings by the Chinese claiming for themselves that discovery.“
In the course of Dr. Kramer’s researches he visited the British Museum and in the Oriental Library there he studied Dr. Herbert A. Giles’ historic work Adversaria Sinica (Book 11853s) in which he found evidence that the South-seeking chariot was a mechanical device and not magnetic.
I think you will agree that the model by Mr. George Lanchester and the researches of Dr. Kramer provide a lesson of absorbing interest in the fields of mechanical engineering and the history of science.
Source: Cousins, F.W.: A Mystery of Ancient China, in: The Meccano Magazine, Page 498ff, September 1955