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Casartelli Singer's Patent Compass c.1868

Casartelli, Manchester, Singer's Patent Compass c.1868

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A brass box Singer's Patent pocket compass, made by Casartelli of Manchester, c.1868. The lack of a serial number on the compass card means that the compass was made after Singer's patent expired in 1868. The compass has a brass case, with a push-fit lid, a mother of pearl card, and a jewelled pivot. The mother of pearl compass card is hand painted in the classic Singer's design, and signed 'Casartelli, 43 Market Street, Manchester'. The compass has a transit lock mechanism, but this is not working.

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.

Joseph Louis Casartelli (1822-1900): Casartelli was a maker scientific-instrument maker, born in Tavernario, Italy in 1822. In 1834 the family emigrated to Liverpool, joining Luigi Casartelli (also known as Louis Casartelli) in his scientific instrument business, at 20 Duke Street, Liverpool, making barometers and thermometers. The young Casartelli may have served his apprenticeship with him. By 1845, Joseph and his uncle, Antonio Giovanni, had taken over Louis' business. The two continued in partnership as opticians and barometer and thermometer makers and glass-blowers for the next six years, as Anthony and Joseph Casartelli. In 1851 Joseph moved to Manchester and established himself as a maker of mechanical and optical equipment. Joseph purchased the Ronchetti instrument making business at 43 Market Street, Manchester, and this became Casartelli & Son. Casartelli expanded the business to produce high-quality optical, surveying, textile, and engineering instruments, including microscopes, telescopes, cameras and other optical devices. He also operated a photographic studio in Manchester. Casartelli had a special interest in steam engines and boilers, taking out seven patents on a variety of projects. After 1896, the company was known as J. Casartelli and Son.


In good condition and good working order. The compass finds north well. The brass case and lid are in good condition, with general signs of use, and some wear and marks to the original lacquered finish. The hand-painted mother of pearl card is in very good condition. The transit lock does not lock the compass card, but this has no other effect on the function of the compass. The glass is in very good condition.

Dimensions: 37mm (Diameter) x 15mm (H)