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WW1 J. H. Steward Mk VI Military Compass | Compass Library

1917 J. H. Steward Military Compass

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A nickel-plated brass cased J. H. Steward Mk VI military pocket compass, dated 1917. The compass card is marked 'J. H. Steward Ltd, London'. This type of card design was still being produced in the 1920's and several versions were offered for sale in Steward's 1928 catalogue. The design was a development of the classic Singer's Patent compass of the 1860's. The compass features a hand drawn paper compass card, agate jewelled pivot, thick bevelled glass, and a Dennison hunter case. This is a very unusual example of an officer's compass, as most of those designated 'MK VI' were produced from 1914-1916 and featured a simpler version of the Singer's design. I have never seen another WW1 compass that uses this particular and very distinctive J. H. Steward compass card. The brass ring surrounding the glass is another highly unusual feature. The compass is marked on the lid with the official British military 'broad arrow', showing that it was issued by the army, rather than being an officer's private purchase item.

James Henry Steward established his business in London in 1852. As a maker and retailer of optical, scientific, military and surveying instruments. J.H. Steward was the head optician of the company and had businesses at 406 Strand, 457 West Strand and 54 Cornhill in London. In the mid 1800s he became the optician to Her Majesty's Government and the National Rifle, and National Artillery Associations. James Henry Steward died in 1896. J. H. Steward Ltd was incorporated in 1912 and continued in business until the middle of the 20th century.


In very good original condition, and good working order. The compass finds north well. The nickel plating of the case is in good condition. The compass card and bevelled glass are in very good condition. There is a little dust under the glass. The lid opens well and closes with a good firm snap. With broad arrow markings and 'Dennison, Birmingham, VI, 55334, 1917' engraved on the lid. The compass card is marked 'J. H. Steward, London'.

Dimensions: 45mm diameter (65mm inc. loop)