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Francis Barker Indian Army Singer's Compass (1868)

Francis Barker Indian Army Singer's Patent Compass c.1868

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An extremely rare (possibly unique) compass, made by Francis Barker in the 1860s for the British Army in India. This compass is exceptionally unusual in that it is not only signed by Barker, it is also marked 'Stanley, London' on the compass card and features the official War Office broad arrow or 'crow's foot' mark. The broad arrow appears above a capital letter 'I', denoting  that this compass was issued to the Indian Army.

The paper compass card is hand drawn in the classic Singer's design, and marked 'Singer's Patent', although without a serial number, which dates the compass to around the time the patent elapsed in 1868. The date of the compass can be narrowed down further as the card is also marked 'Trade Mark London', with the letter 'S' the right way round, identifying it as having been made before the end of 1875 (the 'S' was reversed after the death of Francis Barker in December 1875). It has a jewelled pivot and nickel plated brass hunter case, with a transit lock which operates when the lid is closed. The compass even retains the original leather strap, which would have been used to attach it to an officer's tunic or belt.

Samuel Berry Singer (1796 - c.1875) was a master mariner from Southampton when he patented his unique design in July 1861. Its high contrast design was intended to be much easier to read in low light than conventional compasses of the time. He did not benefit greatly from his invention, the patent lapsed in 1868, and he ended his days living in poverty in Kincardine on the Firth of Forth.


In very good condition and full working order. The leather strap shows signs of wear and age.

Dimensions: 48mm (65mm including loop)