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Dollond Verner's Mk VI Prismatic Compass c.1914

Dollond Verner's Mk VI Military Compass c.1914

Price £220.00 Sale

A MK VI Verner's Service Pattern prismatic marching compass, dating from c.1905-1914. The compass is signed on the lid by 'Dollond, London’. This compass is in very good condition, with very little wear, and with the original oxidised and lacquered finishes 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 the MK VII. The mother of pearl compass card has 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' was a compound of calcium sulphide. The paint 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. This compass has no 'broad arrow' service markings, so it may well have been an officer's private purchase item.

Dollond and Company, (optical and scientific instrument maker): In 1750 Peter Dollond opened a small optical business in Vine Street, Hatton Garden, London, under his father's guidance. By 1752 The business was sufficiently successful that John Dollond, Peter's father, gave up silk weaving and went into partnership with his son in the optical business. In 1758 John Dollond obtained a patent on a compound lens for refracting telescopes. In 1759 J. Dollond and Son opened a shop in the Strand. In 1761 John Dollond was appointed optician to George III and the Duke of York. In 1766 Peter went into partnership with his younger brother, John. They went on to supply optical instruments for Captain Cook. In 1781 Peter Dollond began making bifocal spectacles. John Dollond died in 1804 and Peter Dollond took his nephew George Huggins into partnership; Huggins changed his name by licence to Dollond. The trading name of the business remained P. and J. Dollond. In 1819 George took over the company. In 1820 Peter and George were jointly made opticians to George IV. During the 1800s Dollond's sold the Camera Lucida, a drawing aid patented in 1806 by William Hyde Wollaston and manufactured by the Dollonds; and the Camera Obscura.

In 1851 Dollond's were awarded a medal at the Great Exhibition for instruments for recording meteorological information on a strip of paper. In 1852 The younger George succeeded to the family business on his uncle's death; following the family tradition, he too adopted the surname Dollond. In 1866, when the second George Dollond died, the firm was taken over by his son, William (1834–1893). By 1871 William Dollond had become too ill to continue working and he sold the firm to J. R. Chant, a former employee, who retained the trading name of Dollond. During the early 20th century Dollonds sold film cameras, and in 1927 the firm was acquired by James Aitchison to become Dollond and Aitchison, after which it concentrated increasingly on prescription spectacles.

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.1900-1918. 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.


The compass is in very good condition, good working order and finds North well. The bezel is quite a tight fit and takes a bit of effort to turn, but it will rotate the full 360 degrees. There is some minor wear to the paint on the centre section of the compass card. The original oxidised and lacquered finish to the brass case is in good condition. The leather case is in very good condition, with some minor wear.

Dimensions : 52mm diameter (72mm inc. prism)

(Please Note: this compass is not available for shipping to the USA)