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Miniature F. Barker Pebble Lens Compass c.1890 | Compass Library

Miniature F. Barker Pebble Lens Compass c.1890

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A miniature F. Barker & Son ‘Pebble’ Lens pocket compass, dating from c.1880-1920. Although there are no maker's marks, this type of compass design featured in many Barker catalogues, from the 1880s until the 1920s. In the Barker catalogue for 1885 the larger version of this design was described as a ‘Cyclists Compass, for use with maps etc’. It was said to be ‘Invaluable to Cyclists, Captains, Military men, and others. Being transparent, the roads on the map are easily seen and the distance calculated. The pebble lens, being best optically worked, makes it a fair sized magnifier of good power, for reading and examining any small object’. By the time the 1907 catologue was produced, these transparent compasses were being described as useful to ‘Aeronauts, Explorers, Motorists, and Yachtsmen’. The Pebble lens compasses were available in a variety of sizes, the largest being 1.5 inches. The compass has a brass case (with what looks like a gold plated top edge) and a finely balanced English Bar Needle. The cardinal points are hand painted in red and black, set against a pale yellow background.

Further details of this type of compass design can be found in: Trade Mark London by Paul Crespel, and at the website.


The compass is in very good condition, full working order and finds North very well. The magnifying lenses are in very good condition. The brass case and bar needle are in very good condition.

Dimensions: 20mm diameter, 5mm depth

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 carried by Pyser-SGI. They continue to produce the renowned Barker M-73, widely acknowledged to be the world's finest prismatic compass.