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WW1 Kamm & Co Mark V Military Compass (1915)

WW1 Kamm & Co Mark V Military Compass (1915)

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A WW1 British Army Mark V nickel-plated brass pocket compass, supplied by L. Kamm & Co. of London in 1915. This compass has the British military ‘broad arrow’ mark engraved on the lid, showing that it was official government issue, rather than a private purchase item. It also has the serial number 19949 and is dated 1915. This is a very early Kamm serial number - the earliest previously documented Kamm serial number was 20553. Like most Mk V compasses, this one has a Dennison case, identified by a case number that is stamped on the inside of the lid and also has the last four digits stamped on the rim of the lower part of the case, probably to ensure the case and lid matched. This particular compass is unusual in that although it has the Dennison numbers, it also has a type of bow mount and insert screws on the base of the case that are not often seen on Dennison cases. During 1915 only four companies are known to have been supplying this type of compass to the military - Kamm & Co., Sherwood, Ed Koehn, and the Anglo Swiss Association. The compass card design is the classic Singer’s Patent type with a jewelled pivot, widely used by the military before being largely replaced by the Verner’s Patent Prismatic compass around the start of WW1.

L. Kamm & Co: was founded by the typewriter manufacturer and early motion picture pioneer Leonard Ulrich Kamm in 1892. Kamm designed and produced the Kammatograph, a combination camera and projector. The company manufactured electrical equipment, early lantern slide projectors, Kinematographs and cinematography cameras, projectors and equipment. They had a factory in London at 27 Powell Street, Goswell Road, Finsbury, and offices at 25 Cecil Court, Westmiinster.

Singer’s Patent compass: 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. Although Singer’s design was widely used, with examples being produced by all the major compass makers of the Victorian era, Singer 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 in Scotland.


In very good condition and good working order, the compass finds North very well. The nickel plating of the brass case is in good condition, with some minor wear and a few marks. The glass and compass card are in very good condition. The case hinge is strong, the push button opens the lid as it should, and the lid closes with a good firm snap.

Dimensions : 45mm diameter