If you are going to enter the world of the old compass – buying them, selling them, restoring them, even using them to find your way from point A to point B – then you need a means to evaluate the quality of the compass in question.

Vintage compasses are a hot item these days. But not all of them are worth paying money for – in fact, some are better left off the antique market entirely.

First, ask yourself to what use you’re going to put the compass. Are you planning to resell it? Is clearing a profit your objective? Then you need to purchase with a long-term view. It’s a difficult market in which to achieve a quick turn around.

If you are buying antique compasses for an investment, then you want to buy quality. You want to buy units that are in good condition – not necessarily functional condition, but with all the parts in place and looking good. The aesthetics of the old compass matter a great deal.

That’s not to say that functionality has no relevance. Plenty of people – and you might be one – are interested in a vintage compass because they like using them. They like to go hiking with a good topographical map and a century-old compass and see if they can avoid getting lost.

Obviously, if you intend to use the compass, then you need to ensure that it works. And the best way to do this is to actually hold it in hand. Buying a used compass online is fine but you have to remember that some sellers will say a compass “works” simply because the needle turns when they do! But that can be a far cry from a needle that is properly aligned.

Be clear before you purchase what you need and what you want and align your buying efforts accordingly. It’s the best way to avoid buyer’s remorse.