A rare hunter-cased Francis Barker & Son pocket compass, dating from c.1875. The compass card features a well-known Francis barker design, with an aluminium compass card with red 'N' marker and 'Star' pattern at the centre. The compass has a transit lock and very fine English bar needle. The compass glass is marked in red with the four cardinal points. This particular model is very rare and unusual, with an exceptionally fine pivot arrangement usually only seen in Barker's 'Pebble Lens' compasses. The pivot has a bearing at the bottom and the pivot pin passes through the needle and locates in a bevelled recess in the underside of the glass. The result is a beautifully balanced and smooth needle movement. Most of the compasses of this design made by Barker were unsigned and were sold to retailers, who often signed and sold them as their own products. But this compass is signed on the inside of the lid by 'F. Barker & Son Makers, London'. Further details of this type of compass can be found at Paul Crepsel's excellent trademarklondon.com, and also in his book (available to view online) Trade Mark London (p.177).
Francis Barker & Son: were established in London in 1848, as a maker of compasses and scientific instruments. Francis Barker produced a very wide range of compass designs over the years, supplying major retailers such as Negretti & Zambra, J. Lizars, C. W. Dixey, Dollond, and many others. The company prospered until 1932, when it was taken over and became F. Barker & Son (1932). After WW2 the company changed hands several times and the name is now carried by Pyser-SGI. They continue to produce the renowned Barker M-73, widely acknowledged to be the world's finest prismatic compass.
The compass is in very good condition, full working order, and points strongly to North. The brass case is in very good condition, with some signs of wear and use, and much of the original black oxidised finish having worn away from the exterior of the lid. The oxidised finish is still visible on the sides, base, and interior of the case. The lid opens and closes perfectly, and retains its original finish on the interior. The aluminium compass card, English bar needle, pivot, and bevelled glass are all in very good condition. The transit lock is working well.