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A very scarce solid silver transparent pebble compass with opisometer or map measurer by Francis Barker for John Collard Vickery c1909

1½” diameter pocket transparent compass having double-sided peripheral yellow gilded 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. Combined with double-sided opisometer or map measurer having china-clay coated printed dials and blued pointers, with scale for Nautical Miles, Kilometres and Statute Miles to one side, the verso with dual conversion scales for Inches to Miles or Verstes (obsolete Russian measure of distance), and Centimetres to Metres. All mounted in a solid silver case with hallmarks to both sides indicating London, sterling silver, 1909, and silversmith John Collard Vickery. Silver suspension ring.

All contained within its original high quality champagne silk and velvet-lined green Moroccan leather over wood travel case.

Condition: The silver mount in excellent original condition, some very minor marks, the hallmarks well-struck. The compass 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 opisometer dials very clear.

The leather case with marks commensurate with age and use, the silk and velvet linings with age marks and some staining.

Comments: Francis Barker was the preeminent maker of compasses of the day, and produced white label instruments for the trade, rarely self-signing. Similar compasses known as “The Cyclist” appeared in Barker catalogues as early as 1885 and throughout the early part of the 20th century, though that original name was dropped in the early 1900s 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. Barker also made opisometers or map measurers, with very similar examples seen in the same early 20th century catalogues. In addition, Francis Barker was well-known as a silversmith and goldsmith, producing high quality charm-sized instruments as well as larger gold and silver compasses and pocket barometers.

We have seen two other similar examples of this combined transparent compass magnifier and opisometer – one in 9ct gold retailed by Vickery, and another in silver, retailed by Asprey.

John Collard Vickery was an important and successful player in the retail side of the gold and silversmithing business in the early 20th century, obtaining a number of Royal Warrants.

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

Dimensions: Silver Compass & Map Measurer - 3½" long x 1½" wide x ⅜" deep; Weight: 72g; Travel Case - 4½" wide x 2½ deep x ⅞" high

Stock No: SI2600

Price: £1750