FREE DELIVERY on all UK orders | Unconditional guarantee on every item
J. H. Steward Francis Barker M-71 Prismatic Compass

J. H. Steward Francis Barker M-71 Prismatic Compass

Price £425.00 Sale

A rare Francis Barker M-71. The Francis Barker M-71 Prismatic Military compass was a direct descendant of the legendary Barker Mk III that was introduced in 1932 and used by British armed forces throughout the second world war. The M-71 was only made during 1971, in very limited quantities, before being replaced by the M-72 in 1972. The M-72 was itself quickly replaced by the M-73, which remains in production today, is standard issue with many armed forces, and is regarded as the world's finest liquid prismatic compass.

This is also one of the last compasses to be sold by J. H. Steward, probably the most famous scientific instrument retailer of the 19th and 20th centuries. This compass dates from the end of J. H. Steward's long and distinguished association with the London trade in British scientific instruments, which began in 1852 and ended in 1973. Hardly any M-71 compasses have retailer's markings, but this compass is clearly engraved on the base with the J. H. Steward name and address: 'J. H. Steward Ltd, 406 Strand, London'.

The M-71 has a brass case and lid, and a mother of pearl dial with a triangular luminous North marker. This is the MILS version, with the index ring and the mother of pearl compass card calibrated in  MILS. The most noticeable difference between the M-71 and M-72 is that the M-71 has luminous paint markers, rather than the tritium lights seen on the M-72. There is also a luminous paint well under the index ring near the hinge, rather than the lozenge shaped well with a tritium light that was used on the M-72.

Most of the M-71 and M-72 compasses were totally unmarked, with no maker's marks, serial numbers, or NATO stock numbers. Some of the last to be produced (like this one) had the lettering 'PAT APPL. FOR' on the base. Almost all of the M-71 compasses were exported to Australia. (Further details of the M-71 can be found at Paul Crespel’s excellent website:

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. Mr Goble was now the only member of staff, running the shop but mainly retained to provide a service to long-standing customers and to sell the remaining stock. The business finally moved to 154a Church Road, Hove, Sussex in 1973, before finally ceasing trading in 1975.


The compass is in very good condition, full working order, and finds North very well. There are general signs of use, and some minor some wear to the paint finish. The mother of pearl card is in very good condition. The prism, index glass, and lid window are in very good condition. There are no bubbles in the compass fluid. The luminous paint markers are working very well, making the compass suitable for use in total darkness, as originally intended.

Dimensions : 85mm x 60mm x 30mm