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Francis Barker Hunter Cased Pocket Compass c.1884

Francis Barker Hunter Cased Pocket Compass c.1884

Price €303,95 Sale

A rare hunter-cased Francis Barker & Son pocket compass, dating from c.1884. Although there are no maker's marks, the compass features several well-known Francis Barker design elements, including an aluminium compass card with a 'Star' pattern at the centre, a complex transit lock, a very fine English bar needle, and the glass marked in red with the four cardinal points. This particular model also has the exceptionally fine pivot arrangement usually only seen in Barker's 'Pebble Lens' compasses. The pivot pin is balanced on a jewelled bearing at the bottom and passes through the centre of the needle, with the top of the pin locating in a bevelled recess in the underside of the glass. The result is a very sensitive and smooth needle movement. Inside the lid there are a tiny set of markings - '4. 5. 84' - which may be the date the compass was made - examples of this design are known to have been produced from the 1870's to the early 1900's. As was the case with many of Barker's products, most of the compasses of this design were supplied unsigned to retailers, who often signed and sold them as their own products.

Further details of Francis Barker compass designs can be found in Paul Crepsel's excellent book Trade Mark London (available to view online as a PDF at

Francis Barker & Son: were established in London in 1848, as a maker of compasses and scientific instruments. Francis Barker produced a very wide range of compass designs over the years, supplying major retailers such as Negretti & Zambra, J. Lizars, C. W. Dixey, Dollond, and many others. The company prospered until 1932, when it was taken over and became F. Barker & Son (1932). After WW2 the company changed hands several times and the business is now owned by Pyser Optics of Edenbridge in Kent, who continue to produce the renowned Francis Barker M-73, widely acknowledged to be the world's finest prismatic compass.


The compass is in very good condition, full working order, and finds North well, although the needle can be a little slow to settle. The brass case is in very good condition, with some signs of wear and use. The lid opens and closes perfectly, and retains its original bronzed finish on the interior. The aluminium compass card, bar needle, pivot, and glass are all in very good condition. The transit lock is working well.

Dimensions : 50mm diameter (75mm including loop)