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Victorian Pocket Sundial Compass c.1880 | Compass Library

Victorian Sundial Compass c.1880

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A very rare and unusual example of a pocket sundial compass, dating from c.1880 or earlier. Although there are no makers marks, this is a very well made instrument, undoubtedly by one of the best makers of the time. It may possibly have been made by Francis Barker & Son, as they specialised in sundials around this time. The style of the needle and compass card are typical of compasses made in England in the second half of the 19th century. The compass has a brass case, with a push-fit lid, hand-drawn compass card, a blued needle with gold painted markers, and a brass pivot. The hinged sundial gnomon is spring-loaded and unfolds automatically when the lid is removed.

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 the history of pocket sundial compasses, can be found at the website. Francis Barker was one of the most prolific makers of sundials in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and details of his sundials can be found at Paul Crespel's website,


The sundial compass is in very good condition, full working order and finds North well. The brass case is in good condition, and the lid fits very well. The paper compass card, needle, and gnomon are all in very good condition. The original glass has a couple of minor blemishes at the outer edges, and a little dust under the glass.

Dimensions: 50mm diameter, 15mm depth