A sterling silver Francis Barker & Son ‘Pebble’ Lens pocket compass, hallmarked for London, 1905. The case also has the Francis Barker maker's mark 'F.B. & Sn'. This type of compass design featured in many Barker catalogues, from the 1880s until the 1920s. In the Barker catalogue for 1885 it was described as a ‘Cyclists Compass, for use with maps etc’. It was said to be ‘Invaluable to Cyclists, Captains, Military men, and others. Being transparent, the roads on the map are easily seen and the distance calculated. The pebble lens, being best optically worked, makes it a fair sized magnifier of good power, for reading and examining any small object’. By the time the 1907 catologue was produced, this compass was being described as useful to ‘Aeronauts, Explorers, Motorists, and Yachtsmen’. The Pebble lens compass was available in three sizes, the largest being 1.5 inches. The compass has a sterling silver case and a finely balanced English Bar Needle. The cardinal points are hand painted in red and black, set against a pale orange background.
Further details of this type of compass design can be found in: Trade Mark London by Paul Crespel, and at the trademarklondon.com website.
The compass is in good condition, full working order and finds North well. The magnifying lenses are in good condition, with some dust and marks on the underside of the glass. The silver case and English bar needle are in good condition. The hallmarks and maker's marks are in good condition.
Dimensions: 38mm diameter (1.5 inches), 58mm inc. loop
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.