Singer's Patent Compass by Francis Barker, London, c.1880.

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A Singer's patent pocket compass by Francis Barker & Sons, London, c.1880.

F. Barker & Sons (1820 - Dec. 15, 1875) is a British company founded by Francis Barker in London in 1846. Two years later, in 1848, he set up a second company, Groves and Barker - Mariners' Compass and Sundial Makers with his friend and former co-apprentice Richard Groves and they traded from 16 Market Street, Clerkenwell, London. Richard died in 1864 and about one year after his death Groves & Barker was absorbed into the thriving F. Barker & Son. F. Barker & Son also took over and incorporated the company J & G Simms (where he and Richard Groves had learned their trade) in 1855 once both the brothers had died.

The most common early trademark used by F. Barker & Son was the triangular TRADE MARK LONDON mark enclosing the marks B, & and S all superimposed. After Francis' death, the S was printed or punched turned to the left. In 1955, the firm's accountants Mr Leach and Mr. Pearson took it over Pyser-SGI Limited of Edenbridge, Kent, England is the current flag-bearer of the Francis Barker trademark.

This compass, c.1880, boasts the 2″ Singer’s patent design hand-drawn dial with 32-wind compass rose displaying cardinals and intercardinals, and further marked to the half-point, outer scale from 0-360 degrees, with 2 degree divisions. The cardinals and intercardinals also marked in luminous paint.

The floating card dial suspended on jewelled bearing, carrying the maker’s ‘Trademark’ logo with the reversed ‘S’ in ‘FBS’ showing that this compass post-dates the death of Francis Barker in 1875. The glass and dial remain in their original condition. All F. Barker & Sons' hand painted elements to the dial and glass are present and clear. The sprung lid operates as it should.

The compass is in full working order and points North precisely.

A compass from one of the premier makers of the age with cardinals and intercardinals hand-highlighted in what is almost certainly Balmain’s Luminous Paint, patented in 1877.


Diameter: 4.5cm 

Weight: 44 grams