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J. H. Steward Bedford College Compass (c.1900)

J. H. Steward Bedford College Compass (c.1900)

Price $226.00 Sale

A very good example of a J. H. Steward Ltd Greencard Prismatic Compass, probably dating from c.1900. The brass case is engraved with J. H. Steward's details and also 'Bedford College Geology'. This compass features a blackened or oxidised finish brass case with green compass card, prism, and folding sights. It comes complete with its original fitted leather compass case, stamped 'Geographical Dept. Bed. Coll'. This type of compass was first introduced c.1860 and was used for both civilian and military surveying. During WW1 Greencard prismatic compasses were used by British army machine gunners and artillerymen.

J. H. Steward Ltd: James Henry Steward (1817-1896) established his business in London in 1852 as a maker and retailer of optical, scientific, military and surveying instruments. J.H. Steward was the head optician of the company and had businesses at 406 Strand, 457 West Strand and 54 Cornhill in London. In the mid 1800s he became the optician to Her Majesty's Government and the National Rifle, and National Artillery Associations. James Henry Steward died in 1896. J. H. Steward Ltd was incorporated in 1912 and continued in business in London until 1973. The main London office was sold in 1971, and from 1971-1973 the company rented premises in Catherine Street. All the remaining stock and long serving staff member George Goble (c.1916-1975) were moved to Catherine Street. The business finally moved to 154a Church Road, Hove, Sussex in 1973, before finally ceasing trading in 1975.

Bedford College: was founded in London in 1849 as the first higher education college for women in the United Kingdom. Originally known as the Ladies College in Bedford Square, it was officially renamed Bedford College in the 1870s. In 1900 it became a part of the University of London, and in 1909 it was officially recognised as Bedford College For Women. Having played a leading role in the advancement of women in higher education and public life in general, it became fully coeducational in the 1960s. In 1985, Bedford College merged with Royal Holloway College, another part of the University of London, to form Royal Holloway and Bedford New College. 


The compass is in very good condition, full working order and finds North well. The original blackened finish of the case is in very good condition, with minor signs of wear. The glass window, prism, sights, and compass card are in very good condition. The fitted leather case is in very good condition, embossed with the stamp of 'Geographical Dept. Bed. Coll'.

Dimensions : 70mm diameter (105mm inc. prism), 15mm depth