Meeker's
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Nature Antiques
Larry and Carole
Meeker

Purveyors of Americana
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www.Patented-Antiques.com

LCM@Patented-Antiques.com
Orders / Inquiries / Questions

530-620-7019
(ORDERS ONLY)


Antique & Vintage
Surveying / Surveyor Instruments
Compasses / Solar Compasses / Levels / Telescopes



Surveying Compasses


Burt & Bailey of Detroit Michigan c. 1853 - 1855 Solar CompassBurt & Bailey / Detroit Michigan c. 1853 - 1855 Solar Compass in Original Box   This Burt & Bailey Solar Compass is a rare and desirable 19th Century American Surveying Instrument.  This rare Solar Compass was produced by Burt & Bailey a short lived partnership based in Detroit MI and is an important piece of American history and Americana.

William Burt was first granted a patent for his idea of a solar compass in 1836.  There are several in depth and detailed histories that can be found online about William Burt, his solar compass invention and his 1836 patent for a solar compass.  Informative links can be found below this write-up and pictures.

William Young, the famous instrument maker from PA made the first example for Burt which was submitted for the patent.  Burt displayed his idea at several exhibitions and was awarded several medals for the innovative nature of the idea, but large scale production never really took off during that period.  In the early 1850's production was moved to the Detroit area for a time, but with the elder Burts death, his heirs lost interest and production there came to an end shortly after.

This example was made between 1853 and 1855 by William Burt Sr. son's John and William Burt in partnership with a fellow named John Aylesworth Bailey who at that time owned the rights to manufacture them.  The partnership of Burt and Bailey was in existence for 2 years or less from 1853 - 1855.  It is not known how many solar compasses they produced, but it is sure not many given how few have ever been found.

The company was reformed and renamed J & W Burt after Bailey left in 1855. That partnership was also short lived.  One year later the company was again renamed Burt & Watson.  Watson had previously worked for William Young in PA and was taken in as a new partner by the Burt brothers.  That incarnation also lasted about 1 year.

This compass measures approx. 15 inches long. It is complete with original box, sight vanes, and leveling base.  All motions work smoothly.  The compass needle swings.  The level bubble is good.  It is in very nice overall condition with a great patina and does not look to have ever been fiddled with.  It is housed in its original box which is also in nice condition.  The plate is marked at one end with the partners names Burt & Bailey, and with the location, Detroit Mich. on the other. I see no other markings or serial # other than the Young label inside the top of the box.

A rare and important surveying instrument and near unique piece of Americana for the discriminating collector history buff.


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PNW-BB-SC

Good + . . . . . . $14,500.00

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Further Info on Burt Solar Compass

Wikipedia has a wealth of overall information concerning solar compasses and their history that can be found at this link.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_compass

The original patent was hand written, and a copy can be viewed at the Survey History site https://www.surveyhistory.org/1836_solar_compass_patent1.htm

The Survey History site has a detailed history on the Burt family and the several partnerships that they were involved in http://www.surveyhistory.org/j__&_w__burt.htm

Another essay concerning Burt Solar Compasses can be found at the Wisconsin History site.

Probably the most concise and clear history of  the Burt solar compass makers and partnerships can be found on the remains of Bud Uzes old surveying related site where he describes a Burt Solar Compass he owned and was being sold after his death.

I found one more short write-up on Burt Solar Compasses in an ebay ad for another Burt Solar Compass that I have included here.

William Austin Burt Solar Compass

The solar compass, an astronomical instrument, was first invented and made by William Austin Burt. He patented it on February 25, 1836, in the United States Patent Office as No 9428X. The first solar compasses are believed to have been made in the late 1830’s by Henry Ware and Leonard Nutz in Cincinnati, OH. William Young was contracted to make improved solar compasses beginning in 1841.

It received a medal at the Great Exhibition of 1851. Burt, a United States Deputy Surveyor, began surveying government lands in Michigan in 1833. While working in Wisconsin, where there were large deposits of iron ore, Burt experienced great difficulty in using his standard vernier scale compass. This motivated him to find a solution that was not dependent on magnetism and would not be influenced by earth's ore materials. With his mechanical abilities, he then devised and built the solar compass. Burt made a model of his instrument in 1835 to test its validity. The instrument was then submitted to a committee at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. They examined its principles and merits and ultimately awarded Burt twenty dollars in gold and the John Legacy Medal. He improved on his surveying instrument and in 1840 re-submitted it to the Franklin Institute. The instrument was further improved over the years and in 1851 he exhibited that version at the Great Exhibition in London, where he was awarded another prize medal. He then received another medal by jurors of Astronomical Instruments.

Burt’s solar compass is a precision instrument made of brass with a solar attachment that allows surveyors to determine the true north direction by reference to the sun rather than by reference to the magnetic north pole. It allowed surveyors to locate true north through viewing the sun and other astronomical observations and was not influenced by magnetism or iron ore or other ore materials. The United States government required land surveys to be done by Burt's Solar compass; as in many cases the cost to accurately survey lands with heavy mineral deposits that interfered with normal instrumentation would have exceeded the value of the land.






19th Century Benjamin Chandlee & Holloway / Baltimore Surveying CompassBenjamin Chandlee & Robert Holloway / Baltimore Surveying Compass   Surveying instruments bearing the name Chandlee are considered one of the most desirable, rare, and interesting of all Colonial era American surveying instruments. The tradition was begun by Goldsmith Chandlee, maker of instruments for the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and other notable American figures.  Benjamin Chandlee III was Goldsmith Chandlee's son, and continued the tradition of making surveying instruments started by his father.     

There are numerous Bios and other references to the Chandlee family and the instruments they made available online. There is a detailed history on Goldsmith Chandlee by Elgin to be found at the SurveyHistory.org site, and a shorter one by Smart on Benjamin Chandlee at the same site.  Benjamin Chandlee was born in 1780 and died in 1822.  His working dates in Baltimore are from 1814 up to the time of his death.  He was in partnership with Holloway from 1819 until his death in 1822, thus dating this compass from that period.  Online research indicates that this is but one of 1/2 dozen or so compasses made by this partnership known to exist

The compass measures approx. 15 inches long and has a 5 inch blued needle. It is in original untouched condition with a great patina. The needle swings to north and the lock operates.  The functioning double tally keeper is built into the compass face under the glass.  The silvered compass face is nicely engraved with a great looking Fleur de Lis at the north point.  The name Chandlee & Holloway with the Baltimore location are at the bottom of the compass face.  A great looking early 19th century surveying instrument of historical importance.

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NJ-CHAND-COMP

Fine . . . . . . $8950.00

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William Stieren Vernier Survey CompassWilliam Stieren Vernier Surveyor's Compass w/ Original Purchase Receipt   William Stieren was a little known Pittsburgh PA instrument maker & dealer of surveying instruments and other related scientific articles. (see pic of original receipt ).  He is not listed at the Smithsonian site and there is just a very short bio on him in Smarts book on surveying instrument makers.  Information on the internet about him is scant, but all is not lost as this survey compass comes with its original receipt dated 1890 with a wealth of further  historical info included.  It lists Wm. Stieren primarily as an optician on the receipt but there is so much more.

An interesting thing to note is that Stieren died in 1887 when the receipt is dated 1890.  The receipt gives us a clue as to how that is possible as it lists two other partners in the firm, also with the name Stieren who continued the business for an unknown amount of time after the founders death.  The receipt also gives us the price of the compass at $42.00, and tripod for $8.00.  There is the further notation that the buyer was allowed a credit of $23.00 for the instrument he traded in at the time.  One can only wonder if that compass was by Rittenhouse, Chandlee or some other 18th century instrument maker.   

The compass measures approx. 15 inches long and the compass has a 5 1/2 inch needle. There is just the points, maker and location name engraved on the silvered face. The compass needle swings freely and points north.  It has a nicely engraved Fleur d' Lei at the North point  The compass face shows no wear or tear and is like new.    The body shows little or no wear as well and there is a lot  of the original lacquer finish remaining.   The crack seen in the glass has been repaired.  While both level bubbles are good and look original, one is blue / green, and one clear.  There is no box, but does come with the display stand shown.  All in all a nice looking and relatively rare surveying instrument by an obscure maker from western PA.

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RT-STIER-COMP-1

Fine . . . . . . $1250.00

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James Green Baltimore Maryland Black Face Survey Compass w/ TripodJames Green Baltimore Maryland Black Face Survey Compass w/ Tripod   James Green compasses are not seen very often.  He was born circa 1808 and was first listed in Baltimore directories in the mid 1830's as a philosophical instrument maker.  Smart theorizes Green moved to New York in 1850 and continued in business there for a number of years. 

The compass measures approx. 15 inches long and has a 5 1/2 inch needle.  The needle swings to north and the lock operates.  The center of the silvered compass face is finished in black and it has a nicely engraved Fleur d' Lei at the North point.  The level vials are full.  The tally keeper which is built into the compass face under the glass works.  The box is nice and has a series of lead buttons across the top.  I assume so one could stack other boxes on top without damaging the box.  The tripod is original and has a great period repair to one leg.   All in all a nice looking early 19th century surveying instrument that will look nice on display.

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AMN-GREEN-COMP

Good . . . . . . $1750.00

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Baldwin & Storrs 18th Century Surveying CompassBaldwin & Storrs 18th Century Surveying Compass   Jedidiah Baldwin was a watch and clock maker as well as an early scientific instrument maker.  At the time that Smart published his book on surveying instrument makers in America just one wooden compass by him was known. There is also a bio on him in "Early American Scientific Instruments and Their Makers", by Silvio A. Bedini.  That book can be found on the internet.  Because of  the research that has been done on early American craftsmen and their trades, and the way this early and unusual compass is marked, this brass metal bodied compass can be dated to within the time span of 1792 - 1794. 

Nathan Storrs was born in 1768 into a well known and documented family of Silversmiths from CT.  He died in Northampton Mass inBaldwin & Storrs 18th Century Surveying Compass 1839. He first appeared in a directory in NH in 1791.  The following year he partnered with Jedidiah Baldwin to make scientific and surveying instruments. This partnership lasted just 2 years. Compasses from this period are marked as this one is. (pic at right)  I found no other examples or reference to other instruments with the same mark on the internet, and only one compass by Storrs from when Storrs worked alone.  18th century brass case compasses from the New England area are a pretty rare commodity and on the same level as those by famous instrument makers like Chandlee and Rittenhouse, 18th century instrument makers from Virginia and PA. 

This 18th century brass compass is very small and measures just 11 7/8" long.  The compass is just under 5" across w/ a 3 1/2" needle. Note in the pics how the compass cover is a twist fit and not threaded. The decorative rope edge on the cover is a beautiful touch.  Also note the small and delicate rams horn shaped thumb screws for the sight vanes and needle lock.  The silvered face is highly engraved and all hand done.  Same with all the numerical degree stampings.  It is a truly wonderful example of 18th century American / Yankee craftsmanship.  True Americana at its finest.  Nice!!


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GG-BALD-STOR

Fine + . . . . .  $10,995.00

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K & E / Keuffel & Esser 80 0090 Recon Compass2 K & E / Keuffel & Esser 80 0090 Recon Compasses   1 in box, one not.  Each compass measures 4 1/4" x 3 3/4" x 3/4". B  The needle is 2 1/2" and points north as it should. Wording on dials is Recon 80 0090 K&E Keuffel & Esser Co. Made In USA. The increments on both are legible. On inside of lid is sight line and plat plan.   It will help you find your way.  No need for the phone or GPS.  Nice!!

SR-KE-RECON

Left  . . . . .  Good + . . . . . . $10.00

Right in Box . . . . . .  Fine . . . . . . $20.00  (several available)

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Levels & Inclinometers



Stackpole & Brother Wye Level in BoxStackpole & Brother Wye Level in Box   A  large & graphic instrument by Stackpole & Brother a well known mid 19th century New York maker.  Note that it is stored in the box as two pieces.  The scope is 18" long.  This typically is referred to as a Railroad or Wye level, either term is correct.  It has not been polished and has a heavy patina that goes with the age.  The box shows considerable wear and is still solid.  The crosshairs are present, and the optics are OK.  It has not been calibrated or tested for use. Big & Graphic. It will make for a nice display in a number of settings!! 

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SR-STACK-WYE

Good + . . . . . . $375.00    SOLD!

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W. & L. E. Gurley Railroad / Wye Level in BoxW. & L. E. Gurley Railroad / Wye Level in Box   A large & graphic instrument by the best known and most highly regarded maker of surveying instruments in America.  It does not have a serial # and so dates from before 1908 and from the engraving style believe it dates from well before that.  It looks to be in virtually unused condition retaining well over 95% of its original green lacquer matte finish.  Crosshairs present, optics crisp, just an all around nice instrument.  It has not been calibrated or tested for use.  Big & Graphic. It will make for a nice display in a number of settings or would be perfect for re-enactments or things of that sort!!  As nice as I have ever had!!

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SR-GUR-RWYE

Fine . . . . . . $895.00    SOLD!

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W. & L. E. Gurley Dumpy LevelW. & L. E. Gurley 12" Dumpy Level in Box   A super condition graphic wye level by the best known and most highly regarded maker of surveying instruments in America. It does not have a serial # and so dates from before 1908 and from the engraving style and the "nut" feature holding the scope I believe it dates from well before that.  It looks to be in virtually unused condition retaining well over 95% of its original green lacquer matte finish.  Crosshairs are present and the optics crisp.  An all around nice instrument.  It will make for a nice display in a number of settings or would be perfect for re-enactments or things of that sort!!  As nice as I have ever had!!

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SR-GUR-12WYE

Fine . . . . . . $495.00

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Keuffel & Esser / K & E Wye Level in BoxKeuffel & Esser / K & E 12" Wye Level in Box   A nice looking smaller wye level by Keuffel & Esser one of the premier makers of surveying instruments in America.  The serial # of 1403 would date this from pre 1900. It is in very nice uncleaned condition and has developed a nice even patina. Crosshairs present, optics good.  The scope is approx. 11" long.  It has not been calibrated or tested for use.  It will make for a nice display in a number of settings or would be perfect for re-enactments or things of that sort!!  Nice!!

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SR-KE12-WYE

Fine . . . . . . $175.00

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Keuffel & Esser / K & E Railroad Wye Level in Box Keuffel & Esser / K & E Railroad Wye Level in Box   A nice looking larger wye level by Keuffel & Esser. It appears a restoration was begun and stopped.  It needs to be completed with the paint stripped from the level below the scope and from the eyepiece.  There are no cross hairs and the reticle to hold them is missing  This will not affect its display look.  It is a large and graphic instrument appropriate for display.   Nice!!

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SR-KE20-RWYE

Good . . . . . . $150.00

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Keuffel & Esser / K & E 5110 Engineers Wye Level in BoxKeuffel & Esser / K & E 5110 Engineers Wye Level in Box   A nice large Engineer's wye level by Keuffel & Esser one of the premier makers of surveying instruments in America.  The serial # of 36693 would date this from 1918. It is in very nice condition and the black finish is near perfect. Crosshairs present, optics good.  Good bubble.  All motions are free and smooth.  The scope is approx. 18" long.  The magnification is 32 power for long range shots. The box is solid and does show the age.   I believe it would be a great user given the condition or it will make for a nice display in a number of settings!!  I do have tripods that will fit this instrument on the tripod page.  Very Nice!!

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SR-KE18-EWYE

Fine . . . . . . $395.00

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Keystone Blue Paper Co. Wye Level in BoxKeystone Blue Paper Co. Wye Level in Box   A nice looking and good condition instrument in its original box sold by Keystone Blue Paper Co. of Philadelphia PA. The serial # is 9739. It is stamped with the name and number on the side of the base. From the look of it I would think it dates from near the turn of the century and certainly pre WWII. It has not been over cleaned and has developed a nice even patina. Crosshairs present, optics good. The scope is approx. 11" long. It will make for a nice display in a number of settings or would be perfect for re-enactments or things of that sort!! Nice!!

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SR-KE12-WYE

Fine . . . . . . $150.00

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Beckman Wye Level12" Beckman Wye Level   Not a bad looking instrument, but his wye level is for decoration only.  There are no crosshairs and the optics are cloudy.  A nice display piece.

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SR-BECK-WYE

Fair  . . . . . . . $40.00

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T. Whaley / New York Wye Level in BoxT. Whaley / New York Wye Level in Box   A nice looking wye level in its original box. It is stamped with the name and location on the base below the scope. From the look of it I would think it dates from the mid to late 1800s. Crosshairs present, optics OK.  T Whaley is not a listed maker in Smarts, nor is there much info to be found using Google although I did find one ad from the 1870s. The scope is approx. 16" long. It will make for a nice display in a number of settings or would be perfect for re-enactments or things of that sort!! Nice!!

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SR-WHAL-WYE

Good + . . . . . . $175.00    SOLD!

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K & E / Young Farm / Drainage LevelK & E / Young Farm / Drainage Level   This small level  looks to date from the early 20th century.  Level is unmarked but the collectors reference calls it off as a Young / K & E product.  They were designed for casual use lying out fences , drainage and similar tasks on the farm or ranch. The level bubble is good. It is brought into focus by pulling the tube out. There is  target included.  It looks to have seen little use and is in excellent condition.  A nice antique display piece.

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SR-KEY-FARM

Good +  . . . . . . . $50.00

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Small German Level DRP 36795 in Velvet Lined CaseSmall German Staff Level - DRP 36795 in Velvet Lined Case   The only marking on this is DRP 36795.  A Google search for that turns up several examples and the following info taken from the Smithsonian site.  Georg Butenschön was the proprietor of a workshop for scientific instruments located in Bahrenfeld, near Hamburg, and he showed his wares at the international exhibitions held in Chicago (1893), Berlin (1896), and Paris (1900). His basic pocket level was based on his German patent (#36795 dated 1886), which described an instrument in which the level vial, cross hairs, and distant object were seen together through the eyepiece of the telescope.

The level and bubble are good. It is brought into focus by pulling the tube out. The empty spot in the box held a base or knuckle joint. That is missing.  Interesting.

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ALA-GLVL

Good +  . . . . . . . $95.00

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German Staqff LevelSmall Staff Level in Wooden Box   Level is unmarked.  Label in box has info that looks and sounds Germanic. The level bubble is good. It is brought into focus by pulling the tube out.   Interesting.

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SR-GLVL-2

Good +  . . . . . . . $125.00

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antique surveying levelSmall Staff Level   This small staff mount level w/ knuckle joint looks to date from the late 19th early 20th century.  Level is unmarked. The level bubble is good. It is brought into focus by pulling the tube out.   A nice antique display piece.

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SR-GLVL-3

Good +  . . . . . . . $75.00

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Alidades



Keuffel & Esser / K & E 5093 A Alidade in BoxKeuffel & Esser / K & E 5093 A Alidade in Box   A nice looking instrument by Keuffel & Esser one of the premier makers of surveying instruments in America.  The serial # of 103665 would date this from approx. 1948. It is in very nice condition and looks to have seen little if any use. The scope is approx. 11" long. Crisp optics. Good bubbles and compass.  Note the magnifier on the vernier scale.  Very Nice!!

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SR-KE-ALA

Fine . . . . . . $350.00

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Keuffel & Esser / K & E AlidadeKeuffel & Esser / K & E Bar Alidade   Very Nice!!

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SR-KE-ALA

Good + . . . . . $20.00

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Union Instrument Co. Alidade & Compass in Leather Covered BoxUnion Instrument Co. Alidade & Compass in Leather Covered Box   A nice looking set-up where both the folding arm alidade and compass fit into the leather covered box.  These were used in the field w/ a plane table    Nice!!

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SR-UNION-ALA

Good . . . . . . $85.00

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Keuffel & Esser / K & E 5095 A Expedition Alidade in BoxKeuffel & Esser / K & E 5095 A Expedition Alidade in Box   A nice looking instrument by Keuffel & Esser one of the premier makers of surveying instruments in America.  The serial # of 104016 would date this from approx. 1948. It is in very nice condition and looks to have seen little if any use. The scope is approx. 10" long. Crisp optics. Good bubbles and compass.  Note the magnifier on the vernier scale.  Very Nice!!

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SR-KE-ALA

Fine . . . . . . $350.00

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Gurley Expedition Size Alidade in Leather Covered BoxGurley Expedition Size Alidade in Leather Covered Box   The serial # of 272026 would date this from 1927. It is in good condition. Crosshairs present, optics good.  Good bubble. Compass works.  All motions are free and smooth.  The scope is approx. 10" long. The box is solid and shows age and wear.    Nice!!

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SR-KE18-EWYE

Good +  . . . . . . $250.00

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Pocket Compasses & Transits

Brunton Pocket Transit / Compass by AinsworthD. W. Brunton Pocket Transit / Compass by Ainsworth    Brunton Pocket Transit, by W.M. Ainsworth & Sons, Denver Colorado, Made In USA.  This pocket transit is in good operating and cosmetic condition. The serial number #43759. This pocket transit has not been cleaned or touched-up in any way.  It comes in a proper leather case that is OK but well used. 

A history of Brunton and Ainsworth, including instruction on use can be found on line at the site / link  https://oldtopographer.net/the-topographers-tools/brunton-pocket-transits/  A small snippet of Info from there is that Brunton the inventor contracted with Denver-based instrument maker William Ainsworth & Sons to produce the first pocket transits. Ainsworth remained the primary manufacturer of Brunton pocket transits until after WWII. In 1972 the Ainsworth company folded and the Brunton company was formed to continue production. Original Brunton compasses are still manufactured today in Riverton, Wyoming.

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JF-BCOMP-AIN

Fine . . . . . . $150.00

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K & E / Keuffel & Esser  Brunton Pocket Transit / CompassK & E / Keuffel & Esser  K & E / Keuffel & Esser Brunton Pocket Transit / Compass   A Brunton Pocket Transit / Compass instrument  offered by K & E.  It is identical in operation and design.   This pocket transit is in good operating condition noting the mirror could be replaced.

A history of Brunton and Ainsworth, including instruction on use can be found on line at the site / link  https://oldtopographer.net/the-topographers-tools/brunton-pocket-transits/

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JF-BCOMP-KE

Good + . . . . . . $100.00

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K & E / Keuffel & Esser  #5721 Military ClinometerK & E / Keuffel & Esser  #5721 Military Clinometer   A glorified hard to use hand level in a different configuration.  A government contract money maker for K & E  @ 17. 50 each no doubt.   Seems to work, although an abney is easier to use

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SR-KE-5721

Good + . . . . . . $20.00

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D. W. Brunton Pocket Transit / Compass by AinsworthD. W. Brunton Pocket Transit / Compass by Ainsworth   Brunton Pocket Transit, by W.M. Ainsworth & Sons, Denver Colorado, Made In USA.  This pocket transit is in good operating and cosmetic condition. The serial number #17406. This pocket transit has not been cleaned or touched-up in any way.  It comes in a proper leather case that is OK and has seen use 

A history of Brunton and Ainsworth, including instruction on use can be found on line at the site / link  https://oldtopographer.net/the-topographers-tools/brunton-pocket-transits/  A small snippet of Info from there is that Brunton the inventor contracted with Denver-based instrument maker William Ainsworth & Sons to produce the first pocket transits. Ainsworth remained the primary manufacturer of Brunton pocket transits until after WWII. In 1972 the Ainsworth company folded and the Brunton company was formed to continue production. Original Brunton compasses are still manufactured today in Riverton, Wyoming.

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SR-BRUNT-17406

Good + . . . . . . $150.00

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D. W. Brunton Pocket Transit / Compass by AinsworthD. W. Brunton Pocket Transit / Compass   .  This Brunton Pocket Transit is in good operating and cosmetic condition. This pocket transit has not been cleaned or touched-up in any way.  It comes in a damaged plastic case.

A history of Brunton and Ainsworth, including instruction on use can be found on line at the site / link  https://oldtopographer.net/the-topographers-tools/brunton-pocket-transits/  A small snippet of Info from there is that Brunton the inventor contracted with Denver-based instrument maker William Ainsworth & Sons to produce the first pocket transits. Ainsworth remained the primary manufacturer of Brunton pocket transits until after WWII. In 1972 the Ainsworth company folded and the Brunton company was formed to continue production. Original Brunton compasses are still manufactured today in Riverton, Wyoming.

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SR-BRUNT-RIV

Good + . . . . . . $150.00

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K & E / Keuffel & Esser # 5410 Prismatic CompassK & E / Keuffel & Esser # 5410 Prismatic Compass   Marked Engineer Dept. USA    Very Nice!!

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SR-KE-PCOMP

Fine . . . . . $25.00

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Larry & Carole Meeker