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Verner's Mk VI Service Pattern Compass c.1905

Verner's Mk VI Service Pattern Compass

Price £225.00 Sale

An early version of the MK VI Verner's Service Pattern prismatic marching compass, dating from c.1905. The compass has no maker's marks, but is a high quality instrument, no doubt by one of the best maker's of the time. The compass is in very good condition, with little wear, and with the original oxidised and lacquered finishes in very good condition. The compass is quite a rare variant of the Verner's type, having a smaller than usual viewing window in the lid, and no friction ring on the underside of the case. It is in full working order and comes complete with its original leather case.

The Verner's MK VI was produced between c.1905-1914, and was standard issue to British officers at the start of WW1. It was replaced soon after the start of the war by later developments, such the MK VII. The compass card features black hand-painted markers over a luminous paint background. This type of luminous paint, most probably a version of 'Balmain's Luminous Paint', was a compound of calcium sulphide. The paint was made luminous by exposure to sunlight or, as suggested in the original instructions, by burning a strip of magnesium ribbon near the compass card. It was patented in England in 1877 by William Balmain, and was often used in compasses, before the introduction of radium paint rendered it obsolete just before WW1. This compass has no 'broad arrow' service markings, so it may well have been an officer's private purchase item.

Lt-Colonel William Willoughby Cole Verner (1852-1922) served on the staff in the Egyptian campaign of 1884-85 and during the Boer War. He retired as a Lt-Colonel in May 1904. The earliest Verner designs were simple pocket compasses, with the various models of the Service Pattern, MK III to MK VII, appearing between c.1900-1918. His prismatic service compasses were essentially a development of the Schmalcalder patent design of the early 19th century, but they remained the standard service compass of the British Army until the start of WW2. As well as designing compasses, Verner was a prolific author, military historian, and chronicler of the Rifle Brigade.


The compass is in very good condition and full working order, and finds North well. The transit lock and manual brake are in good working order. The compass card and original glass are in excellent condition. The original leather case is in very good condition. There is a faint inscription on the base of the compass, 'Rover Arnold Bailey, 1st Lightcliffe, 42nd Halifax'. The leather case is also marked 'A. Bailey, 42 HX'.

Dimensions : 53mm (diameter, 77mm inc. prism)