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Verners Pattern VIII Prismatic Compass

Technical Information

Catalogue No: C1713
Category: Vintage and Antique
Object Type: Indicator/Instrument
Object Name: Verners Pattern VIII Prismatic Compass
Part No: None
Serial No: 73022
Manufacturer: Elliott Bros (London) Ltd
Division: Not Applicable
Year of Manufacture: 1917
Dimensions: Width (mm): 55
Height (mm): 20
Depth (mm): 85
Weight (g): 151
Location: Cupboard CH (Display 3) [Main Store]

Marked 'F-L' and 'No 73022', '1917'


Verners Pattern compasses are both incredibly popular with collectors as well being a compass that can still be practically and easily used today. The most common models are the Verners Pattern VII and Verners Pattern VIII which were mainly used during World War 1. Their basic construction is a prismatic dry card compass with a both a momentary bearing lock and transit lock. As a compass they are lighter than the Mk III prismatic that superceded them in WWII and are generally considered easier to use.
Colonel William Willoughby Cole Verner was born in 1852 and commissioned into The Rifle Brigade in 1874, retiring in 1904. He served on the staff in the Egyptian campaign of 1884-85 and during the Boer War. He died in 1922.
Whilst the basic prismatic compass design has its origins in Schmalcalder's patent of 1812 (Patent No 3545), Verners Pattern is a significant development which can be traced back to 1895.
In 1895 F Barker produced a Verner Compass (nos 327) and J H Steward produced both a Verner compass, a Major Verners Sergeants compass and a Major W Verner's Patent Night Marching Compass which were all pocket compasses and not prismatic compasses. All had distinctive compass card markings.
Around 1905 the term Verners Pattern with a model number was used starting with a Verners Pattern V. Generally, the compass card is the main area of change in the early models and some of the basic features are evident from the model V through to the VIII and the IX of WWII.
This is a Verners Patent Verners Pattern Prismatic Compass VIII in a nice Leather case. The main design change in the Mk VIII from the previous design is that an arm fitted to the top lid operates the transit lock when the lid is closed.
The compass was acquired with the Collection of the late Ron Howard and noted as being made by Elliott Bros. However, there is no marking to indicate the manufacturer but it is known that Elliott Bros made such items. The compass case is marked F-L which indicated French Ltd (F-L or T French & Son Ltd a London company) and they too are listed in various sources as a maker of these instruments. Here again other sources state that French Ltd made the leather case but not the instrument.
This type of pocket compass is often called a marching compass, as it was widely used by the Military.
The instrument has engraving on the base edges and top. There is a name on the leather case that cannot quite be identified (it could be Heath?). Many of these items were acquired by Army Officers and this could be a name.
See: http://www.compasscollector.com/

The item comes with a leather case the dimensions are :
W83 x D105 x H30.
The Compass was donated by the family of the Late Ron Howard in 2019

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