The Boreal Arrow
Code BA23091201: Georgian Shagreen Cased Long-Neck Hallmarked Silver Compass by CARY, 1793
| This is an extremely rare Georgian Long-Neck open-face Silver compass dating from 1793 and made by Cary of London. |
William Cary (175916 November 1825) was an English scientific-instrument maker. Trained under Jesse Ramsden, he produced numerous scientific instruments including mechanical calculators, measuring instruments, telescopes, microscopes, navigation and survey equipment.
"William Cary was born to George and Mary Cary. He had three brothers, the eldest George (ca. 1753-1830) was a haberdasher while the second brother John, was a mapmaker who also worked with William and the last, Francis (ca. 1756-1836) was an engraver. Cary learnt the skills for producing instruments as an apprentice of Jesse Ramsden (1735-1800).
The instruments made by William Cary were used around the world including Russia and India. He also made instruments for the English chemist William Hyde Wollaston. After his death in 1825, the firm was taken over by Charles Gould who may have trained briefly under William Cary".
The case of this compass is made of sterling silver with London 1793 silver hallmarks inside the back lid. The case maker's initials T H (Thomas Harper I) are stamped in the middle of the silver hallmarks. 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 CARY, STRAND, 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. The compass measures around 40mm in diameter and around 59mm from bottom to bow. The shagreen case measures 49mm in diameter.