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WW1 Francis Barker Escape Compass | Compass Library

WW1 Francis Barker Escape Compass

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A rare miniature hunter cased Francis Barker WW1 escape compass, dating from c.1914. These compasses would have been issued to allied servicemen, or bought as private purchase items by officers and RFC pilots and aircrew. Similar minature compasses were used by SOE and the RAF during WW2 for escape and evasion. This particular compass probably saw service in both world wars, and was owned by Captain Hubert Crane, an army chaplain, who was rescued from Dunkirk in 1940.

The compass card is cleary marked 'F. Barker & Son, London'. It features a Singer's type night marching compass card, with a jewelled pivot and blued needle. The case has a small indent on one side to insert a fingernail to aid with opening the lid. There are luminous markers at the cardinal points, although after 100 years these no longer glow in the dark. Further details of this type of escape compass can be found in Kornelia Takacs Compass Chronicles (Schiffer, 2010), p.84, and at Paul Crespel's

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.

(Please Note: this compass is not available for shipping to the USA)


The compass is in very good condition, full working order, and finds north well. The compass card, needle and original glass are in good condition.

Dimensions : 15mm diameter