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Sadd & Son Barker Sundial Compass c.1875

Sadd & Son Barker Sundial Compass c.1875

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A Francis Barker & Son pocket sundial compass, dating from c.1875, signed by Sadd & Son of Cambridge. Although there are no makers marks, this particular design was only ever made by Barker and has the unique Barker 'hidden' hinges and the '7' shaped clasp. The compass has a wooden case, made from Yew, and a typical Barker design paper compass card. It has a blued needle with gold painted markers and a brass pivot. The original paper label inside the lid includes full instructions for the set up and use of the sundial. The compass is signed on the exterior of the lid by 'Sadd & Son, Cambridge'. Robert Sadd & Son were a firm of opticians and jewellers, trading at 7 King's Parade from the mid 19th century. Their family business had been trading in Cambridge since the late 18th century, starting out as dealers in antiques. Robert Sadd (1815-1894) passed the business on to his son Alfred Henry Sadd (1851-1914). Their neighbour at No. 8 King's Parade was a Mr H. E. Greef, which apparently provided the locals with a great deal of amusement - Sadd and Greef living next door to each other in the same street.

Sundial compasses had been made in Europe since the late 17th century, with wooden cased types known to have been made since the early 19th century. Further details of this particular Barker compass design, and the history of pocket sundial compasses, can be found at the website, page:


The sundial compass is in good condition, full working order and finds North well. The wooden case is in good condition. There is a circular mark on the bottom of the case where a duplicate of the instruction label would originally have been. The clasps, hinges, and lid support are all in good condition and working as they should. The transit lock is fully functional. The paper compass card, needle, and glass are all in very good condition. The original paper instructions label inside the lid is in good condition. The sundial string is a little worn, but could easily be replaced if necessary.

Dimensions: 55 x 75 x 20mm

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.