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Francis Barker Singer's Pocket Compass c.1870

Francis Barker Singer's Pocket Compass c.1870

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A Francis Barker & Son Singer's Patent type pocket compass, dating from c.1870. The compass card design is based on the classic Singer's Patent design of the 1860s. With a fine hand-painted Mother of Pearl compass card, jewelled pivot, and transit lock. The compass glass is marked in red with the four cardinal points. The brass case would originally have had a bronzed finish, but this has worn away over time.

Many of the compasses made by Francis Barker were sold unsigned to the retail trade, with the retailer often signing them and selling them on as their own products. But this compass is one of the relatively few compasses that was signed on the card by 'Francis Barker & Son Makers, London', and also has the pre-1875 Barker 'Trade Mark London' logo stamped inside the lid.

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 name is now owned by Pyser Optics of Edenbridge in Kent. They continue to produce the renowned Barker M-73, widely acknowledged to be the world's finest prismatic compass. Further details of Barker compasses can be found in Paul Crepsel's excellent book Trade Mark London (available to view online at


The compass is in very good condition, full working order, and points to North - although it can be a little slow to settle. The brass case is in good condition, with some minor signs of wear. The lid opens and closes well. The mother of pearl compass card, jewelled pivot, and glass are all in very good condition. The transit lock is working well.

Dimensions : 45mm (65mm including loop)