A J. H. Steward Verner’s Patent Mk III Military Compass. Dating from c.1895, this compass was one of the earliest designs produced by Colonel William Willoughby Cole Verner. Willoughby Verner (1852-1922) was a soldier and prolific inventor of military scientific instruments, with his patented compasses being standard issue in the British army from the 1890s to the start of the Second World War. Verner also patented a Cavalry Sketching Board that was used throughout WW1, and wrote extensively on military subjects. Verner joined the Rifle Brigade in 1874 and served in the Sudan and the Boer War, later becoming the official historian of the Rifle Brigade. His published works included Sketches in the Soudan (1885) and Rapid Field-Sketching and Reconnaissance (1889). Today Verner is undoubtedly best known for his series of military compasses, mostly produced by J. H. Steward and Elliot Brothers between c.1890 and 1918. The earliest of these compasses, and several of Verner's other innovations are well described and illustrated in his book Some Notes onMilitary Topography (1891).
Dating from c.1891-1899, this type of compass featured in Some Notes on Military Topography(1891), in which it was described as being suitable for ‘Night marching and outpost work’. The compass has a brass case, originally with an oxidised black finish to the lid, engraved with J. H. Steward's details, Verner Patent markings, and the serial number 2169. It features a compass card treated with 'Balmain's Luminous Paint' (patented by William Balmain in 1877), and a large black North marker. There is a transit lock operated by a sliding button, and another small lever on the case which operates as a manual brake.
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.
Lt-Colonel William Willoughby Cole Verner (1852-1922) 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.1895-1918. His prismatic service compasses were essentially a development of the Schmalcalder patent design of the early 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.
In very good condition, full working order, and finds North well. There is a slight ding to the exterior of the lid. The compass card and glass are in very good condition.