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A very scarce 9-ct gold transparent pebble compass by Francis Barker retailed by Negretti & Zambra c1919

1½” diameter gold pocket transparent compass having double-sided peripheral gilt scale open to the centre and enclosed by two finely ground glass magnifying lenses. Delicately set barred needle bearing in the upper and lower lens. Scale marked with 16-wind compass rose, comprising cardinals, inter cardinals and intermediates; scale verso marked as quadrant compass, showing 0-90 degrees in each quadrant, and indicating the cardinals and inter cardinals. Mounted in gold case with hallmarks to side for London, 9-ct gold, 1919, and Francis Barker & Son, suspension post and bow, the latter with hallmark for 9ct gold.

All contained within its original high quality cerise and ivory silk-lined Moroccan leather over wood case, with retailer’s stamped gilt mark to inner lid: “Negretti & Zambra, Opticians, London.”

Condition: The gold case in excellent original condition, some very minor marks. The peripheral dials very crisp, the needle suspension particularly smooth and well-balanced, swinging freely and finding north easily. Both lenses in excellent condition with no visible marks, having good magnification and clarity. The leather case near perfect, the silk linings very crisp.

Comments: Similar compasses known as “The Cyclist” appeared in Barker catalogues as early as 1885, though that name was later dropped for the more descriptive “Pocket Transparent Bar Needle Pebble Compass.” These transparent pebble compasses were not only very attractive, but intensely practical since map-work was made substantially easier when able to see through the compass, particularly with the magnifying effect.

The Francis Barker catalogues of the early 20th century describe this pocket compass as being available in 18-ct, 15-ct, and, curiously, 10-ct gold, though the hallmarks are for 9-ct gold, and the slightly smaller version of this compass shown in the same catalogues is listed as available in 9-ct gold. It may be that the larger pocket compass was being marketed to the US where 10-ct was more usually used than 9-ct.

An unusual and extremely desirable antique pocket compass, and very well-executed. Absolutely a wonderful gift for a special occasion!

Dimensions: 2" diameter x ⅝" deep

Stock No: SI2598

Price: £1350