The fashion consisting of wearing jewellery comprising a tiny compass started at some moment in the mid 19th Century. The reason for this is unknown but we can imagine that the general enthusiasm about the expeditions, in Africa, to the North and South poles, discoveries overseas together with the exotic aspects of the colonies or the British Commonwealth can have played a role.
We discovered a document pretentiously called "patent" and filed in 1856 by the French jeweller Edme POPARD by virtue of which, he alone was entitled to sell any fashion article like tobacco box, walking stick grip, purse, jewelry etc. comprising a sundial with compass (follow name link for all details).

JEWELERY and gadgets
- Inserts, hat pin, necklace pendants, city coat-of-arms, charms, postcards, medals, stamps, French "fèves", German students' Bierzipfel etc., roulette game or "Fortune Wheel ?

- Antiques: paperweight, calendar with pill box, fountain-pen, matches safe, collapsible tumbler, opera glasses, powder box, tobacco boxes, compendiums (weather stations)
- Modern: toys, finger ring, key ring, comics, pocket knife, multifunction instrument,
- Electr. measuring instr.: galvanometer, magnetic bar and probe, Radio Antennae, Acqua Magnetic Locator,
- Photographers compasses (DECOUDUNBERRY, HOULLIOT, CHAIX, WATKINS, PLAUBEL, Orient, Graff, Gessinger, Flight Logistics etc.)



Lovers' Postcard

Click on the picture for an enlarged view.

France, early 20th c.
(stamp value: 5 centimes)
Description / explanation
Head streamer: The Language of the Compass
Each cardinal point has a meaning, starting from the cool North and getting gradually hotter towards South.
West = Friendship, SW = Tenderness, SE = Love,
South = Passionate love.
(See also Esoticism)

Bottom line:
Show your feelings by painting the corresponding arrow.
La Boussole d'Amour
Head streamer: The Compass of Love (French soldier in the blue WW1 uniform. Overleaf: letter dated Sept. 10, 1918)
Below the doves: a pocket compass (link to pic) of which we don't possess any similar version but which resembles strongly the M&V products.

Bottom line: With it you never can get lost,
You are sure to love each other forever
Postcard - French airline AIR FRANCE (1930's)
Logo (seahorse) in the centre of a rose of the winds
The aircraft looks like the Couzinet 70 Arc-en-ciel bought by Air France but the real one's fin had not a classical shape but featured a receding line and was somehow too small.
At l.: Stamp representing the exploration ship La Boussole
(in French: The compass).
Read more details in Nautical Compasses / La Boussole (name of a ship)
Below: Boxing the compass

Postcard in Slovenian language dated 1927
Transl.: "geological mapping - an excellent way" (meaning: it leads you to a pub!)
German trading card (Palmin margarine) showing the compass binnacle among various instruments. Young sailors learning the rose of the winds , i.e. boxing the compass. Assembling the KELVITE compass for the Queen Mary (trading card, Churchman's cigarettes)
FÈVES (trinket) for the French Kings Cake
(galette des rois) Read the explanation in Wikipedia


Click on the picture for an enlarged view

Description / explanation
This medal was probably made for the winner of an orienteering competition. Name, date and location can be engraved on the obverse.

UNEG: Union Nationale des Évadés de Guerre (National Association of Escaped Prisoners of War)
Click on the pictures for enlarged views

Back side: fitting for button-hole
Designer: Courtois, Paris
These medals feature a typical French Army marching compass called boussole directrice. Its marching course arrow points to the word FRANCE (or the abbrev. UNEG) and an opening in the barbed wire fence symbolizing the escape from the next country located east, i.e. Germany.
(NOTE: See also the Russian and East-German TOURIST buttons)

Compare to the Médaille des Évadés (Medal for escaped prisoners of war 1939 - 1945) which looks entirely different.
NOTE: The needle's north end which is pointing to about 45° East corresponds in fact to a user located at some place in northern Alaska... Magnetic North in the 1940's was located about 5° West in Europe!


Most items on this page contain a tiny insert compass. One of the most important manufacturer in the 19th and early 20th century was the French maker HOULLIOT. We have copies of numerous documents like lists of clients in the whole world, a price list dated 1883 and a bill form of a manufacturer of fashion compasses (1890s). The table below disolays most of the items in the price list. Some of them are transparent (see-through, called "deux glaces" i.e. 'two glasses' in the list) like the one with a ship's anchor-shaped needle and other featured a thermometer in the other side (pic. at r., click on image for view of both sides).
Go to the museum's shop for more details.

Hat (or tie) pin
England, late 19th c.

Technical Data
- Diameter: 10 mm
- Length: 75 mm


Necklace pendant in fob watch shape - France, late 19th c.
Possibly from the city of Draguignan which has a dragon in its coat-of-arms

Technical Data
- Diameter: 22 mm
- Depth: 5 mm
- Weight (with chain): 175 gr

Pendant in fob watch shape
 France, late 19th c.
Obverse : mistletoe

Technical Data
- Material: silver-coated metal
- Diameter: c.1 " / 23 mm
- Depth: 5 mm
- Poids : 3 gr
Necklace compass pendant -
France, late 19th c.

Technical Data
- Diameter: 21 mm
- Depth: 10 mm
- Weight: 10 g

Obverse design: Britanny's coat of arms
- a Duke's crown (duchy of Britanny)
- ermine tips as a background
- an ermine - but walking against the normal direction (from right to left) on coats-of-arms.
City coat-of-arms - France, late 19th C.

Paray-le-Monial (Pic. courtesy D. Beaudry)

Header of a French instruments maker's invoice.
His specialty was fashion jewelery.
He was a client of HOULLIOT (1890s).

(Click on image for enlarged view)
Compass Pendant - Germany, late 19th c.

Charm for bracelet

Space for engraving one's own coat of arms

The chain is composed of double rings made of elephant hair (?)
Click on picture for enlarged view.
Technical Data
- Dimensions: 19 x 19 mm
- Depth: 6 mm
- Weight: ? g
Charm (Germany?), late 19th c.

This tiny compass is concealed inside a reproduction of a helmet of the German Jäger zu Pferd cavalry regiment (Mounted Chasseurs). Their motto:
(with God for Emperor and Homeland)
is punched around the insignia where the word KAISER is abbreviated "K/R".

These words are from a traditional song:
"Kredenze den Becher uns Vater Rhein
stimm ein in das fröhliche Klingen
heut wollen beim deutschen Kaiserwein
den deutschen Trinkspruch wir bringen
Trag ihn von den Alpen zum Nordseestrand
mit Gott für Kaiser und Vaterland"
The photograph below shows the first words "MIT GOTT".

Technical Data
- Material: silver
- Compass diam.: 10 mm
- Height: 25 mm
- Length: 25 mm
- Breadth: 15 mm
- Weight: 5 gr
Pendant shaped like a German Students' Bierzipfel
A Bierzipfel (beer stripe) is usually made of linen in the colours of the students' association (Burschenschaft). The ends are made of silver or in rare cases of gold and a motto or a ed. In traditional students associations of some universities (mainly medecine and law) younger members (Fuchs, fox) need a leader (Bursche, ). This relationship being in reality a sort of master/slave relationship. The Bierzipfel is offered to an older student and rarely refused. This offering represents a proof of friendship. The elder student acts as a guide in the association and this relationship continues sometimes during the professional carrer. The relationship is acted during an official meeting (Convent) and in some cases the leader (called from then on Biervater, beer father) gives to his Fuchs (Biersohn, beer son) a Weinzipfel (wine stripe).  
Bierzipfel exist in four different sizes.

Click on the image for enlarged view 
Bierzipfel ?
This metallic item has the shape but probably not the functionality of a genuine Bierzipfel.
- Compass dia: 20 mm
- Stripe breadth: 15 mm
- Length (overall): 160 mm


This device features a rose of the winds and an arrow, but it's not a compass with a magnetic needle. It looks more like a Fortune Wheel or a Roulette game but the figures around the disc are different. Instead of numbers from 0 to 36 in random order like on a classical roulette we see here two series of identical numbers. South, West and East are marked 30 but North 32. Several pairs of numbers when added sum up to 30 (11 + 19, 17 + 13, 12 + 18, 20 + 10) or 29 (15 + 14 and 13 + 16) but the numbers 7, 8, 9 and 10 make no sense in this respect except 8 + 9 and 10 + 7 = 17. What can 17 and 29 mean?
The arrow is engraved with the words "Great Britain" on the feathered end side and "Out Spinner" on the arrow head side.
Whoever knows the use of this object and maybe the game's rules is kindly invited to help us improve this entry. Many thanks in advance.


(Click on the picture for an enlarged view of the dial)
Fob watch compass with anchor design
Origin: England, late 19th c.

Technical Data
- Compass diameter: 30 mm
- Depth: 8 mm
- Length (with chain): 170 mm


Capstan-shaped silver charm. A piece of rope is wound around the capstan. It is flanked by two elements looking like belaying pins. Logically, they should represent the bars used to rotate the capstan. The transverse boom (T-bar) was the attachment device for a pocket watch chain in a button hole.

Belaying pin
(Picture courtesy Y. Le Bris)

Click for enlarged view of silver hallmarks
Technical Data
- Compass dia.: 13mm
- Depth: 10mm
- Height: 40mm

The stamps at the base indicate:
- the silversmith's initials (J.A),
- the city of Birmingham in England (anchor),
- the year it was made : 1881 (lower case gothic g).
NOTE: the anchor should have been shown upright. This is usually the position of the anchor for gold jewels. The transverse boom bears the words written REAL SILVER.
Charm - England, early 20th c.

Technical Data
- Compass dimensions
- Diameter: .. mm
The chain bears the maker's punch (C.W) of Charles Wilkes (Mott Street, Birmingham).


 Compendiums (incl. thermometer and barometer)

Antique gold compass with a bloodstone, a rare Victorian item. It opens to a compass/centigrade thermometer and a photo locket.
It features flower chasing on one side and a bloodstone disc on the other side. A walking gold lion is attached at the top.

Click on picture for enlarged view.
(The Online Compass Museum is not the owner of this exhibit - Pictures courtesy BELFOR ANTIQUES)
Technical Data
- Material: gold
- Diameter: 78 "
- Depth: 38 "
- Weight: 17.9 gr
- England 1880

BELFOR ANTIQUES added the following information:
9K gold tested with 9K acid.
The bloodstone was tested with refractive index liquid.

Victorian miniature cased compass and thermometer
Technical Data
- Dimensions: 29 x 18 mm
The case is made from mother of pearl with brass mounts and the compass and thermometer are either side when open. The case closes on a little catch.

Pictures by courtesy of Ebay vendor Flikmywick
Click on the pictures for enlarged views.

The older instruments featured a barometer needle with a fleur de lis-shaped short end. Later instruments featured a moon crescent and the case was cylinder-shaped (link to pic.).
Compendium, France c. 1900

The instrument in its case.  The compass could only be used when the instrument was opened. 
(Pic. of a German Version HERE)
Technical Data
- Dia.: c. 2 in. / 52mm
- Height: 28mm
The compendium comprised two hinged parts containing the compass and a thermometer on one side and a barometer on the other. 
Below: MORIN catalogue (c. 1930)


Foldable windvane stowed under a glass cover

Pictures by courtesy of Andrew Stewart
(click on the images for enlarged views)

WInd-vane compass made by Houlliot

Thermometer on the rear side. Maker or retailer (unknown): G.R.
Dia.: c. 2 ¼ " / 55mm

Click on the image for an enlarged view
Technical Data
- Folding windvane above a floating dial
- Cardinal points: German
- Dia.: 55 mm
- Height (erected): 40 mm
- Weight: 97 g


Gimmicks in youth literature: the French PIF Gadget and its German Version YPS. Marching and Wrist compasses (Link to the German YPS Fans web site). List of issues with a compass:
- 0048 Die Kompaß-Armbanduhr
- 0292 Ein richtiger Marsch-Kompaß
- 0436 Die Kompass-Armbanduhr
- 0761 Die Kompaß-Uhr für Abenteurer
- 0866 Die Kompaß-Armband-Uhr

The Mickey Mouse (in German: Micky Maus) booklet no. 25, dated June1992, comprises a chapter about survival training - especially the use of the compass (Kompassgebrauch).

Read more HERE
Click on the images for enlarged views

Marching compass #292
(Pic. courtesy comiclick)

Wrist compass #436

Wrist compass #866
(Pic. courtesy krabbenohr)

(Pic. courtesy L. Boigey)

Mickey Mouse mag. no. 25 (1992, in German: Micky Maus
The compass assembled
(click on the image to view the parts)
Assembling the compass and how to use it for survival is explained on two pages.

Toy bought in Bulgaria, maybe also built there.  The compass is not an instrument.  Its card's high-speed rotation is proportional to the wheels' rotation on the ground and the two tiny balls running on the card sound like the turbine noise of the engine!

Model Feniks (= Phoenix) 5
Click on the images for enlarged views

The two tiny balls in the compass case
Technical Data
- Material: metal (coloured part), plastic (black part)
- Compass dia: 1 in / 25 mm
- Aircraft dim. (LxB): 4 316 x 3 12 in
- Landing gear: (photo: view of under-carriage)
- Aicraft model: MiG-29 or Sukhoi-35
- Made in Bulgaria ?

Compass in a Finger Ring and Wrist compass

This tiny compass was sold 15 cts as a reward for consumers of breakfast food boxes in the 1930s and '40s. The companies COCOMALT, Smith Bros. Black Cough Drops and NABISCO Shredded Wheat sent the ring together with a postcard. The compass itself was probably produced by the still existing company HIS NIBS. After WWII, a Japan-made wrist compass (below) was sold for 50¢.

Click on the images for enlarged views

Space Navigator

Japanese toy wrist compass manufactured 1950's.
Dim. of card: 3" by 6 7/8"


Paperweight, England, late 19th C.

(Picture Jaypee - priv. coll.)
Technical Data
- Material: marble
- Diameter: 60 mm
- Height: 32 mm
- Weight: gr?

Calendar with pill box?

Technical Data
- Dia.: 1 inch / 25mm
- Height: 2 in. /: 53 mm
- Weight: 58 g
- Compass: Cardinals in English, magnifying lens
- Calendar: rotating bush with notches below the days of the week in French (L = lundi / Monday, M = mardiTuesday / Dienstag etc.)
- Period: France late 19th c.
- Bottom: Names of the months and number of days, name of inventor or manufacturer: Waldeck / Strasbourg

Click on images for enlarged views

Fountain-Pen OSMIROID 135 OSMIROID 135

Click on images for enlarged views
Technical Data
- Material: plastic
- Feather: steel & gold
- Length x Dia. (cap): 6 x ½ in. (150 x 14mm)

Matches safe

Read all details about this item of WWII soldiers' indivual equipment on the website Olive-Drab. Very interesting report about U.S. soldiers' compasses on the website junglesnafus.

Above: Type 1 with floating disc. Type 2 featured a needle.
   Technical Data
- Material: bakelite
- Dia.: 1.188 in / 30mm
- Length: 2.688 in / 70 mm
- Marking (on base): US
- Manufacturer of the compass (link to comprehensive entry) : Taylor

Collapsible tumbler, England, late 19th C.

Technical Data
- Material: aluminium
- Diameter: 70 mm
- Height (tumbler): 80 mm
- Depth (case closed): 25 mm / 1 inch
- Weight: 45 g

Binoculars - Opera glasses (France, late 19th c.)

(see also in the category SUNDIALS our opera glass with sundial)

Two opera glasses: each one is equipped with a compass on one side and a mirror on the other. Metallic structure, telescopic extension for focussing. Cardinal points in English (top) and French (above)

Technical Data
- Diameter front lenses: 45 mm
- Diameter rear lenses: 18 mm
- Breadth open, front lenses: 110 mm
- Breadth open, rear lenses: 85 mm
- Length, fully extended: 105 mm
- Length, folded: 85 mm
- Weight: 100 g

(click on picture for enlarged view of flyer in English and French)
Bakelite, black, rough surface

Technical Data
- The overall dimensions of all three vary only very slightly.
- Weight: about 20-30 g
- Focussing by means of feathered sliding bars
- Dial: Cardinal points in English, divisions 360 degrees, clockwise
- Each lense fits neatly in a frame on the main stem.
Bakelite, ivory imitation
(this exhibit was kindly loaned by Mrs Sue Cubitt)

Technical Data
- Dial marking: BAVARIA
- Divisions: Four 90 degrees quadrants

(Click on images for detailed view of dials)
Bakelite, amber imitation

Technical Data
- Hexagonal lense frames
- Screw actuated focussing extension
- Dial: French cardinal points, compass rose with divisions but no graduation

Compass-binoculars by J. Laffargue

A compass inside the glasses can be observed via a mirror.
Abstract out of "La Nature. Revue des sciences et de leurs applications aux arts et à l'industrie. Journal hebdomadaire illustré. Nouvelles scientifiques, 1894, 2ème semestre : n° 1096 à 1121. Author: Tissandier, Gaston (1843-1899)

Full description (2 p.) available at the price of 5 Euros

Powder Box

Click on the images for enlarged views.
(pictures by courtesy of laugantik)
Powder box made by the French maker Collignon-Houlliot in the 1960s-70s for a famous French make-up maker.

View from below
Technical Data
- Dimensions: Ø 70mm
- Weight: 111gr
- Cardinals in English

Tobacco Boxes

Small Compass on a silver plated Chewing Tobacco Box - USA, end 1800s

Picture on the lid: the compass fills the whole body of a sitting frog holding three tobacco leaves on its left arm and three other unidentified leaves on its right arm. Note: in fact, they look like the rose leaves on the box' underside, which would match the product's designation: "ROSE LEAF Chewing tobacco". The frog's hands are on both sides of its mouth.
Near its right foot are two mushrooms (a big one and a small one).
In the background, a two-masted sailboat (schooner or ketch) with the letter "L" (for the tobacco manufacturer's name LORILLARD) on its aft main sail is sailing towards the box' upper left corner on the ocean's horizon line and a sun (with eyes and eyebrows) is setting behind the horizon in the upper right corner.
Two flowering plants (probably stylised tobacco) are standing at the lid's left border line: a tall one with five leaves and a short one with only three leaves.

Text at the lower border line (1 mm high letters):
SOMERS BROS. Brooklyn, N.Y. - Patented Sept. 24th and Nov. 18th 1878 (last digit unsure)
Click on pictures for enlarged view.

Picture at the box' underside: a heraldic rose between six leaves (three on each side). The text parts ("P. LORILLARD & Co's ROSE LEAF Chewing tobacco") are written on a curled strip.
Technical Data
- Dimensions: 88 x 56 x 16 mm
- Weight: 54 g
- Cardinal points in English

Picture of patent for objects with a sundial and a compass (dated Nov. 1856)

"Utilisation of solar system and compass on tobacco boxes, purses, walking sticks, jewels etc."

Small Compass on a Snuff Tobacco Box - end 19th c.

Description: Small snuff tobacco box made of reddish-brown horn and bone parts. The hinge fits perfectly. The compass needle turns freely and finds North.

Click on pictures for enlarged view.
Technical Data
- Dimensions: 68 x 35 x 66 mm
- Weight: 30 g
- Cardinal points in French (or any other Roman language)

Patent: see item above
Compass probably made by HOULLIOT

Multifunction Instrument

PROFILE - MULTIOPTIC: Little instrument with numerous functionalities for young explorers.
France (?) 2nd half of 20th c.

Click on the pictures for enlarged views.

Users' instructions
(French, copies can be ordered)
Technical Data
- Dimensions: 4 ¼ x 2 1/8 in. (108 x 55 x 55mm)
- Weight: 3 oz. (100gr)
- Integrated functionalities:
Compass, sundial, mirror, magnifying glasses (spy glass, microscope etc.)


It looks like a compass and reacts like one, but  it ain't a compass.

(for more technical details, see WIKIPEDIA)
A galvanometer is an instrument designed for detecting and measuring electric currents. It is an analog transducer that produces a rotary deflection of some type of pointer in response to electric current flowing through its coil.
Early galvanometers consisted of a wooden compass capsule, a simple coil made of insulated copper wire and two cable terminals. The coil wire was wrapped like a box around the magnetic needle's axis (passing through four holes, see pictures below). Each wire end was connected to one of the brass terminals basis. To measure a circuit's current, one connected two sections of it to each terminal by means of measuring wire sections.

Click for enlarged view.
Technical Data
- Diameter: 105 mm
- Depth: 28 mm
- Weight: 120 gr
- Wooden capsule, dial made of cardboard with quadrants divisions (zero at N and S, a star at 90°)
- Marking: Schutzmarke = registered design
- Threefold coil (click HERE for view of rear side)
Tiny galvanometer made by A. Gaiffe (Paris).
Dim.: 4 x 4 x 2 cm

Pictures above left: Early galvanometer manufactured by a German company called J.O.Z. Its logo was a bearded man with a soft cap holding in his right hand a lance-shaped object (lightning?) and a big ring in his left hand (Germany, late 19th c.).

The deflection of a magnetic compass needle by current in a wire was first described by the Danish physicist Hans Christian Ørsted (Oersted) in 1820. The phenomenon was studied both for its own sake and as a means of measuring electrical current. The earliest galvanometer was reported by Johann Schweigger at the University of Halle (Germany) on 16 September 1820. André-Marie Ampère also contributed to its development. Early designs increased the effect of the magnetic field due to the current by using multiple turns of wire; the instruments were at first called 'multipliers' due to this common design feature. The term 'galvanometer', in common use by 1836, was derived from the surname of Italian electricity researcher Luigi Galvani. Originally the instruments relied on the Earth's magnetic field to provide the restoring force for the compass needle; these were called 'tangent' galvanometers and had to be oriented before use.
(See also the French website boussoles des tangentes).

Magnetic Bar & Probe

Magnetic Bar

Pictures courtesy Y. Stern
This tool is a magnetic probe in its most simple form. It is however extremely sensitive and used in laboratories for electrical measurements or by geologists for determining ore quality. It comprises a solid magnetic bar, marked N at one end, which is placed on a pivot. These parts can be assembled and stowed in a hollow wooden case. Before any measurement can be performed, the bar must have reached a stable position relative to Magnetic North. The magnetic fields either created by the current running inside an electrical equipement or existing naturally in a piece of ore will cause the bar to be deflected. Examples of measurements tasks a laboratory.

Picture above: the tool assembled and the bar (images not to scale)

The instrument below was patented in 1893 by Alexandre WEBER and the Swiss company Fabrique d'Ebauches de Sonceboz (FES, created in 1849) which supplied compass cases for many manufacturers. In fact, it is a small dip-needle (inclination) compass but it can be used in any position to detect magnetic fields in electrical devices like live lines.

At left: The manufacturer's abbreviated name FES
At right: The Swiss Patent no.

Patent (excerpt)

(Click on the images for enlarged views)
Magnetic Probe

Technical Data

- Diam.: 45 mm
- Length: 67 mm
- Weight: 45 gr

Similar item made by Henri Burnat (H.B.). Check his Marching and Pocket compasses

Picture by courtesy fo yayadao

Acqua Magnetic Locator

The instrument called Acqua Magnetic Locator (link: description) is a device used for locating underground utilities designed as an improvement of dipping needles.

(Click on the images for enlarged views)

Patent (excerpt)
Technical Data
- Dim.:  3 1/2 x  2 3/8 x 3 1/4 in.
(90 x 60 x 82 mm)
- Built: 1956

Radio Antennae

Pictures courtesy sandozem / Jaypee

(Click on images for enlarged views)

Technical Data
- Dia.: 205mm
- Height: 410mm
- Weight: 1,950 kg
- Compass: pocket-type inserted in the top plate
- Casing wrapped with snake-skin imitating paper
- Selection button for short and long waves (petites et grandes ondes): P.O. / G.O. 
- Coil inside
Manufacturer not known (his name was probably printed on the missing bottom plate)

Pictures courtesy lionjo / Jaypee
Manufacturer DUCRETET
Technical data
- Dim. (frame): 710 x 405mm
- Dim. (foot): 280 x 230mm
- Compass: pocket-type inserted in foot
- Selection button for short, middle and long waves (petites, moyennes et grandes ondes) : P.O. / M.O. / G.O. 

Photographers light measuring compasses

1 - Jules Decoudun (1843-?) was a French engineer, photographer and inventor who lived in the late 19th c. He invented among other systems this device which he called boussole du photographe pour excursions. It was used to determine the sun's height and hence the resulting luminosity. The description (below right) explains the example shown on the drawing (center): orientating the compass with the attachment ring pointing to the subject/landscape, the latter will face the sun at 6 p.m. while he/it will be receiving light from the side in the early afternoon.
2 - A. Berry was an optician in Turin (Italy). We don't know whether he invented this instrument or only was a retailer.
3 - Houlliot (France), unknown UK mfr.
4 - A. Watkins: expose meter and Bee-meter
5 - Plaubel & Co.
6 - Graff: Light angle indicator (Lichtwinkelanzeiger)
7 - Pathé Solar (Continsouza)
8 - Orient Compass

Export version : P.M. (post meridium)
Note: The letter S located an arrow  pointing to the loop stands for the word SUN and not south!

(Pic. sent by a visitor - priv. coll.)
DECOUDUN compass

French version:
MATIN = A.M. (ante meridium)

Picture courtesy Simon A. Spaans
(Click for enlarged view)
Description and instructions
Pic. at left: excerpt from Frédéric DILLAYE's book "La théorie, pratique et l'art en photographie", 1891, La Librairie Illustrée, Paris). Pic at r.: advert. 1890

(Click for enlarged views)

Technical Data
- Diameter: 30 mm
- Depth: 10 mm
- Scale : 6 -12 a.m., 1 - 6 p.m.

User Instruction (French)

(Picture courtesy Simon A. Spaans - Click for enlarged view)

Manufrance catalogue for 1910

Technical  data
- Dimensions: 50 x 45 x 14 mm
- Around 1907

Decoudun retailed many other products for the young photography: ads dated 1890-1985.


(Pic. Jaypee - private coll.)

(Click on images for enlarged view)
Former Italian manufacturer, located in Torino, via Roma

Technical Data
- Diameter: 45 mm
- Scale: 4-20 i.e. 4 a.m. - 8 p.m.
- User instruction on reverse side

French system (Houillot)
South: 12  /  North: 6

The user instruction was available in French, English and German. Apparently illogical system. The disk is divided into 12 hours but the scale doesn't match the sun's positions during the day.

The printing plates for the catalogues and boxes still exist.
(For more pics. click on the images)
Description and user instr. according to Franz Winterer:

Houlliot also printed dials featuring two identical scales, each one divided 0-18 in red and black but numbered only 3-15, probably intended for another still undiscovered instrument (dia. 37 mm, 15 per page).
Compass for sunlight areas, patent filed by P. CHAIX in 1967

Germany: In 1895, a Vienna review reported that a German called Otto Wiegandt of Zeitz (Saxony) had a certain number of Decoudun-type compasses built for him (published in Bulletin du Photo-Club de Paris, no picture available).

British system (no manufacturer name) with inverted figures: South: 6 /  North: 12

Picture courtesy Godblessthismess

Picture courtesy Simon A. Spaans
(Click for enlarged view)
A. WATKINS with Negretti & Zambra compass
Compare the pic. below to the drawing of an ad published in the Bulletin du Photo-Club in Paris (1895)

Technical Data
- Diameter: 45 mm
- Length: 70 mm
- Around 1900

Markings (pict. at r.) :
Watkins Exposure Meter Patent  Sole Makers R. Field & Co Birmingham

A. WATKINS:  "BEE meter"

Picture courtesy anonym. priv. coll.
(Click for enlarged view)
Technical Data
- Diameter: ... mm
- Height: ... mm


Pictures courtesy Thomas Meyer
(Click for enlarged view)
Technical Data
- Dimensions: 75 x 75 x 36 mm
- The company CONTINSOUZA was created 1909

Pictures courtesy Simon A. Spaans
(Click for enlarged view)
PLAUBEL & Co. Peco-Actinometer

Technical Data
- Diameter: 55 mm
- Height: 14 mm
- Around 1908

Former German manufacturer located in Frankfurt-on-the-Main

Pictures courtesy Thomas Meyer
(Click for enlarged view)
Technical Data

- Dimensions: 87 x 64 mm
- Thickness: 12 mm
Below: Official patents list. Benno Graff, Berlin, registered the trade mark design in 1905

Transl.: Device for determining the position of a photographical object in the open, comprising a plate with scale and pointer and a compass.

Pictures courtesy Thomas Meyer
(Click for enlarged view)

PRESTO catalogue

Technical Data
- Diameter: 35 mm
- Thickness: 11 mm
- Overall length: 52 mm

Item retailed by Demaria-Lapierre, Paris, in 1900-1991.
In a PRESTO catalogue dated 1918, there is a price for the dial disk alone. This was probably for compass manufacturers, nor for replacement.


Pictures courtesy Knut Reinicke

Official German publication for patents May 1930. Inventor Max Gessinger of Oelsnitz im Vogtland (Saxony).

Technical Data
- Dia.: 45 mm
- Thickness: 15 mm


Photographers' Sun Position Compass - designed by FLIGHT LOGISTICS

Compass for cinema and television teams but also for gardeners looking for the best place for their plants in a garden!