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Harris & Co. Georgian Pocket Compass c.1820

Harris & Co. Georgian Pocket Compass c.1815

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A very rare Georgian pocket compass, made by Harris & Co., 50 Holborn, London, dating from c.1815. With a hand-drawn, floating, paper compass card of a typically elaborate Georgian style. It has a brass case and jewelled pivot. The compass is in full working order and finds North very well. A beautiful, very high quality compass, from one of the finest makers of the time.

William Harris & Co: William Harris (1781-1841) was an optical and scientific instrument maker, working from Holborn, London at the start of the 19th century, from c.1805 - 1839. Harris had worked for Sir David Brewster in Edinburgh until about 1800, then began to produce instruments under his own name. Around 1805 he opened premises in London at 47 Holborn. In 1813 the business became known as William Harris & Company, when his eldest son, also William (1799-1839), joined the company. They then moved premises to 50 Holborn. The company trade card advertised that they were manufacturers of optical, mathematical and philosophical instrunments 'by His Majesty's Letters Patent'.

In 1820 the company entered into a short term partnership with W. Campbell to sell scientific instruments in Hamburg. Campbell was an optician in his own right, and by 1831 the company at the Hamburg address - Bey dem Rathhause No. 26 - had become known as W. Campbell & Co.

In 1840 Harris & Co. was renamed William Harris & Son. They exhibited at the 1851 Great Exhibition in London, where their stand featured 'barometers, thermometers, and telescopes for use on land, at sea, or for astronomy'. The company appears to have ceased trading by 1855, as another company, Keyzor & Co., had taken over the premises at 50 Holborn in January of that year.


In very good, original condition, and excellent working order. The compass finds North very well. With just the normal signs of age, a few marks, and some minor wear to the case. The compass card and glass are in very good condition.

Dimensions: 55mm diameter (72mm inc. bow)