A rare Francis Barker M-72 in very good condition. This compass was made by Barker and retailed by 'M.D.S. Ltd, London' (Manufacturers & Distributers Syndicate Ltd). M.D.S. were founded in 1920 as the Miscellaneous Disposals Syndicate Ltd, dealing in government surplus items. Around 1940 they were renamed the Manufacturers & Distributors Syndicate Ltd. Their address was 41 St James Gardens, Holland Park, London, and they had a factory at Empire Works, London Road, Horley.
The compass has been expertly serviced in February 2023 by Pyser Optics, Edenbridge, Kent, the current makers of the Francis Barker M-73 and M-88 compasses. Its seals, fluid, and luminous night lights have been replaced, the compass has been fully checked and set up, and is in perfect working order. The compass is calibrated in degrees. It comes complete with its original fitted leather case.
The Francis Barker M-72 Prismatic Marching compass was a direct descendant of the legendary MK III that was in use throughout the second world war. Produced in the UK in 1972, it was a development of the M-71 which was introduced in 1971 and was one of the last Barker compasses to feature a mother of pearl card. The M-72 was only made during 1972, in very limited quantities, before being replaced by the M-73 in 1973. The M-73 remains in production today, is still regarded as the world's finest liquid prismatic compass, and is standard military issue with many armed forces. The M-72 was very similar to the M-71, with a brass case and lid. Most of the M-71 and M-72 compasses were totally unmarked, or in very rare cases, like this one, had the wording 'Pat. Appd. For’ and the retailer's details engraved on the base. This one was retailed by 'M.D.S. Ltd, London'. Almost all of the M-72 compasses were exported to Australia. (Further details of the M-72 can be found at Paul Crespel’s excellent website: trademarklondon.com)
The compass is in very good condition, in full working order, and finds North very well. It has just been fully serviced (February 2023) at the Pyser Optics factory in Kent, including replacement of the seals, fluid and self-luminous night lights. There is some minor wear to the paintwork of the brass case. The leather case is in good condition, with some signs of wear and use.