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MkIII 1939 British marching compass - fake or genuine?

Article about: Hello, Here is a compass that was sold to me as a possible fake (hence a reduced price). Could you tell me your opinion? Regards, Didier

  1. #1
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    Default MkIII 1939 British marching compass - fake or genuine?

    Hello,

    Here is a compass that was sold to me as a possible fake (hence a reduced price).
    Could you tell me your opinion?

    Regards,

    Didier

    MkIII 1939 British marching compass - fake or  genuine?MkIII 1939 British marching compass - fake or  genuine?MkIII 1939 British marching compass - fake or  genuine?MkIII 1939 British marching compass - fake or  genuine?MkIII 1939 British marching compass - fake or  genuine?MkIII 1939 British marching compass - fake or  genuine?
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture MkIII 1939 British marching compass - fake or  genuine?  

  2. #2
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    Looks good to me and similar to mine. The cost of reproducing something like this would mean there would be no profit in it. The Mother-of-Pearl card is a good indicator.

    MkIII 1939 British marching compass - fake or  genuine?

  3. #3
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    Thank you for your reply, Ubique , and a happy new year to you, by the way!

    What worries me a little is the odd location of the serial number at the back and the absence of vertical markings (lines) at the very bottom of the compass, where N, S, E and W are imprinted.

    Regards,

    Didier

  4. #4

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    Hi Didier, happy new year!

    I agree that this one looks OK from these pics but I know what you mean about the indices on the lower edge of the body though I think that this might be a feature of the earliest pieces. Also, whilst this is a known feature of fakes it appears to be the only such sign on your item (if you know this I am sure you know the other signs of reproduction).

    The later M88 which is very similar has no markings at all on the outside of the case but if that were used it would have to be stamped with the cardinal and sub-cardinal points which would be a lot of work for the faker so why an incomplete mark? As stated the compass card seems to be mother of pearl which is a good sign. The illuminant looks like period Radium rather than modern Tritium insofar as can be seen in photographs.
    Is the bezel secure or can it simply be lifted off?

    Most of these that I have handled have been 1942 dated and a huge proportion of the 1939 production would have been lost in France in 1940. So there was a need for replenishment and as with all items of this type there would have been many very minor changes in manufacturing detail that were not sufficiently different as to warrant a change in nomenclature..

    The vast majority of these seem to have lost the original friction ring on the bottom and this one looks like a possible replacement but that would be expected. The body also appears to have differences in the paint but that also is not unusual with items that are refurbished during normal service life which does include the paint. The bubble in the fluid whilst technically a defect requiring repair is perhaps a positive sign of originality which would be too sophisticated / subtle to be deliberately added by a faker. Overall, from the pictures I think this is a good one and all the fakes I have seen have been highly polished decorative brass items and very obvious in inaccurate dimensions / fitting of parts. That said, once you have a concern it is probably a good idea to try and compare it in hand to known originals and seek advice from specialist sources.

    As an aside I used this type during my own service in the '70 - '80s which were converted to the NATO Mils system as well as the later M73 and M88 (the M88 is made of a lighter alloy rather than brass but is otherwise the same as the M73) and they are a brilliant piece of kit. I managed to hang on to an M73 which I still enjoy using today, see pictures attached

    Regards

    Mark
    PS I don't think the location of the serial number makes any difference. It does vary but I admit I don't know why.

    MkIII 1939 British marching compass - fake or  genuine?MkIII 1939 British marching compass - fake or  genuine?MkIII 1939 British marching compass - fake or  genuine?MkIII 1939 British marching compass - fake or  genuine?MkIII 1939 British marching compass - fake or  genuine?MkIII 1939 British marching compass - fake or  genuine?MkIII 1939 British marching compass - fake or  genuine?
    Last edited by Watchdog; 01-01-2021 at 11:49 PM. Reason: Typo
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

  5. #5
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    Thank you very much indeed for this thorough analysis, Mark!
    I do agree with you that, due to the complexity of the whole system, it would cost far too much to counterfeit this compass for a faker to make money out of it.
    I haven't tried to lift the bezel off, but, to me, it seems secure.
    As to the serial number located in the lower half at the back of the body, I have only been able to find one other such instance so far :
    MkIII 1939 British marching compass - fake or  genuine?

    Regards, and all the best for 2021 !

    Didier
    Last edited by Didier; 01-01-2021 at 08:13 PM.

  6. #6

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    Quote by Didier View Post
    I haven't tried to lift the bezel off, but, to me, it seems secure.Didier
    That is good because it is a "snap" fit. It needs to be "flicked off" with a blade or similar and clicks back with finger pressure. The fakes just lift off.

    Regards

    Mark
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

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