Francis Barker Mk VI Service Pattern Compass c.1914
A Mk VI Verner's Service Pattern prismatic marching compass, dating from c.1905-1914. The compass is signed on the base by 'F. Barker & Son, Makers, London'. The compass is in very good condition, with very little wear, and with the original oxidised and lacquered finshes in very good condition. It is in full working order and comes complete with its original leather case.
The Verner's Mk VI was produced between c.1905-1914, and was standard issue to British Officers at the start of WW1. It was replaced soon after the start of the war by later developments such as the Mk VII. This example features a mother of pearl compass card, and would originally have had a central section with black hand-painted markers over a luminous paint Background. This type of luminous paint, most probably a version of 'Balmain's Luminous Paint' - a compound of calcium sulphide, was made luminous by exposure to sunlight or, as suggested in the original instructions, by burning a strip of magnesium ribbon near the compass card. It was patented in England in 1877 by William Balmain, and was often used in compasses, before the introduction of Radium paint rendered it obsolete just before WW1. Although the compass no longer has the luminous paint on the compass card, the mother of pearl is in almost perfect condition. There are no 'broad arrow' service markings on the compass, so it may well have been an officer's private purchase item.
Francis Barker & Son: were established in London in 1848, as a maker of compasses and scientific instruments. Acknowledged as one of the finest scientific instrument makers of the 19th century, Francis Barker produced a wide range of iconic 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 owned by Pyser Optics of Edenbridge in Kent. They continue to produce the renowned Barker M-73, widely acknowledged to be the world's finest prismatic compass.
Lt-Colonel William Willoughby Cole Verner (1852-1922): was a British army officer who served on the staff in the Egyptian campaign of 1884-85 and during the Boer War. He retired as a Lt-Colonel in May 1904. The earliest Verner designs were simple pocket compasses, with the various models of the service pattern, Mk III to Mk VII, appearing between c.1900-1918. His prismatic compasses were essentially a development of the Schmalcalder Patent design of the erly 19th century, but they remained the standard service compass of the British army until the start of WW2. As well as designing compasses, Verner was a prolific author, military historian and chronicler of the Rifle Brigade.
The compass is in very good condition, full working order, and finds North well. The brass case, glass and compass card are in very good condition. There is some minor wear to the original oxidised and lacquered finish to the brass case. A section of the rubber friction ring on the base is missing. The leather case is in good condition, with some minor wear.