The Boreal Arrow 

Code BA10053038: Georgian Shagreen Cased Long-Neck Silver Compass by Dollond London, Hallmarked 1785

This is an extremely rare Georgian Long-Neck open-face Silver compass dating from 1785 and made by Dollond of London. This makes this compass one of the oldest pocket compasses of its kind.

It is made by the famous Peter Dollond (24 February 1731 – 2 July 1820 born Kensington, England), who was an English maker of optical instruments, the son of John Dollond. He is known for his successful optics business, and for the invention of the apochromat.

Working together with his father and subsequently with his younger brother and nephew (George Dollond) he successfully designed and manufactured a number of optical instruments. He is particularly credited with the invention of the triple achromatic lens - i.e., apochromatic lens - in 1763, still in wide use today, though known as the Cooke triplet after a much later 1893 patent.

Peter Dollond worked at first silk weaving with his father, but his father's passion for optics inspired him so much that in 1750 Peter quit the silk business and opened an optical instruments shop in Kennington, London. After two years, his father gave up silk, too, and joined him.

Dollond telescopes, for sidereal or terrestrial use, were amongst the most popular in both Great Britain and abroad for a period of over one and half centuries. Admiral Lord Nelson himself owned one. Another had sailed with Captain Cook in 1769 to observe the Transit of Venus.

The Peter Dollond compound chest microscope is based on improvements to the Cuff-style microscope introduced by British scientific instrument designers Edward Nairne and Thomas Blunt around 1780. Another design was for the Peter Dollond compound monocular Eriometer around 1790 used to accurately measure the thickness and size of wool fibres.

After successfully defending a legal challenge to the patent he held for the achromatic lens the business prospered and he successfully sued his rivals for patent infringement. Dollond's reputation, especially with his father being a Fellow of the Royal Society as a result of his development and patenting of the achromat, provided the company with the de facto right of refusal on the best optical flint glass. This privilege permitted Dollond to maintain an edge in quality over competitor's telescopes and optical instruments for many years.

Notable customers also included:

Leopold Mozart
Frederick the Great
Thomas Jefferson

Dollond & Co merged with Aitchison & Co in 1927 to form Dollond & Aitchison, the well-known British high street chain of opticians.

Peter Dollond's wife was Ann Phillips and they had two daughters, Louise and Anne.(source:

The case of this compass is made of sterling silver with London 1785 silver hallmarks inside the back lid. The silver case is still in excellent condition without dings or dents. The bow has a very nice design typically used in the late 1700s. The same design was used on verge pocket watches of this era as well. The compass has a porcelain dial signed DOLLOND, London. The transit lock can be activated by sliding a small lever on the back of the long neck. The locking mechanism is very sophisticated and includes several springs and levers as can be seen in the pictures. The dial is covered with its original glass crystal free of chips and scratches. The needle has a copper jewelled cap and is very precise and finds North easily.

The compass is housed in a very rare shagreen case still in excellent condition for its age without any damage. It has a strong hinge and a hook to secure it when closed.

This is a museum quality compass that is made by one of the most famous English instrument makers. It is the oldest of its kind and comes in a rare shagreen case. The compass measures around 42mm in diameter and around 59mm from bottom to bow. The shagreen case measures 53mm in diameter.