Compass Study

Vintage compass on a vintage map.


My husband got me this lovely, palm-sized vintage compass at a ship salvage shop and antique dealer in Bangladesh.


The walnut-toned wood box has a metal label reading "Negretti & Zambra, as does the compass itself, both on the cover, and under the glass on the rose's face. The outside of the compass lid reads "Edward VII Compass King & Emporer 1908". The date, 1908, and the word, "London" is inscribed on the compass rose under the glass. The compass has a fob, as well as a sliding knob to lock the floating needle in place when not in use.


The poem, Robert Frost's "The Road Less Taken" has been engraved on brass-toned metal and appears to have been attached to the inside cover. This poem dates to 1915 and was not really considered a classic until the mid-1920s. I'm assuming that the inscription was added later, particularly because the font-styles are more modern.


My husband isn't sure if the compass actually dates to 1908. Negretti & Zambra manufactured compasses, telescopes, monocules, barameters and other scientific items during this time period, but I was unable to find a similar compass style during a fairly comprehensive Internet search.


If you know anything about vintage compasses, please leave a comment. No matter whether this is a reproduction or an actual antique, it is still a wonderful addition to my collection of cartography and geographic ephemera.

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Taken on August 21, 2010