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WW1 Thresher & Glenny Officers Compass

WW1 Thresher & Glenny Marching Compass

Price £155.00 Sale

A rare Thresher & Glenny Night Marching type pocket compass, dating from c.1900-1914. This would have been an officer's private purchase item for military use. The compass features an aluminium card with hand-painted North-South markers, painted centre, and jewelled pivot. The card may have been painted with a luminous compound (most probably ‘Balmain’s Luminous Paint’), which was activated by exposure to very bright light, often created by burning a strip of magnesium ribbon. There is a sighting window in the lid. The compass has a brass case, a transit lock, and a manual brake. Compasses of this type are known to have been manufactured by Francis Barker from around 1875 onwards, being gradually replaced by the Verner's Patent types in the years leading up to the start of the First World War. It is quite possible that this example was made by Barker and retailed by Thresher & Glenny, who were military outfitters rather than scientific instrument makers, and would have added their own details to the compass card. The compass is signed on the card by 'Thresher & Glenny, London’.

Thresher & Glenny: were founded in 1755 and are one of the world's oldest surviving tailors, shirt makers and outfitters. The company has held Royal Warrants since the late eighteenth century and makes court attire and bespoke and ready-for-service gentlemen's garments including suits, jackets, shirts and ties. Today the company trades through a retail outlet at 1 Middle Temple Lane, London.

By the early years of Queen Victoroa's reign, the company adverts read, "Thresher Son and Glenny, hosiers to the Queen, Outfitters and Ready-made Linen warehouse, 152, Strand". In 1854 an outpost of the firm was established at Kadikoi "between Balaklava and the Camp, for securing safe custody and punctual delivery of parcels to the Army in the Crimea. In 1878, the firm supplied canvas shoes dyed with ink for officers embarking for the Afghan War. In 1901 the firm traded as Henry John Glenny "Indian and Colonial Outfitter".

Military, naval and colonial officers made up a large part of the company's clientele, and a number of specialist items were developed for their specific purposes, including ‘Indian Gauze waistcoats’, and luggage for the transport of Thresher & Glenny clothing around the world. Luggage was an important part of the company's business throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, most probably through the acquisition of the business and trade book of Nicholas Ager Hoskins, trunk maker and dealer in brass and portable furniture. Thresher & Glenny designed overland trunks for journeys to India, as well as trunks that were custom made to fit the cabins of P&O steamships. P&O’s information leaflets advised that the only regulation trunks for their vessels were supplied by Thresher & Glenny. Other inventions included the trenchcoat worn by British army officers during WW1. The company made over 28,000 trenchcoats over the course of the war, retaining in the 1930s a list of the names and regimental details of the first 15,000 purchasers.


In very good original condition, and good working order. The compass finds north well. The brass case is in good condition, with general signs of use and a few marks. The compass card and glass are in very good condition. The transit lock and manual brake are working well. The lid fits well and the hinge is strong.

Dimensions: 55mm diameter (80mm inc. loop)