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Physical Sciences Collection - Surveying and Geodesy

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Pike

Benjamin Pike (1777–1863) was born in London, moved to New York in 1798, and set up shop as an optician. By mid-century, Pike and his sons were the leading dealers of mathematical, optical, and philosophical instruments in New York City, with customers all across the country. Benjamin Jr. (1808–1864) joined his father in business in 1831, trading as Benjamin Pike & Son. In 1841, when Daniel joined the firm, the name changed to Benjamin Pike & Sons. It reverted to Benjamin Pike & Son around 1843, when Benjamin Jr. went into business on his own. In 1850, when Gardner came of age, the firm was again known as Benjamin Pike & Sons. It became Benjamin Pike’s Son in 1867, and remained in business until 1916.

Some instruments with a Pike signature may have been made by craftsmen working for the Pikes, and under their direction. Others were made in workshops and factories elsewhere in the United States, and some were made abroad. Those marked "Warranted" were probably made for the Pikes, but not by them. But the Pikes probably made the several instruments that they displayed at local exhibitions. At the 1837 fair sponsored by the Mechanics’ Institute of New York, Benjamin Pike & Son won a silver medal for their "very superior mountain barometer & theodolyte compass." At the 1854 New York State Agricultural Society exhibition, Benjamin Pike Jr. won a silver medal for the "best set of surveyors’ instruments" and a diploma for his theodolite.

Ref: Benjamin Pike Jr., Pike’s Illustrated Descriptive Catalogue of Optical, Mathematical, and Philosophical Instruments (New York, 1856); facsimile with historical introduction by Deborah J. Warner (Dracut, Mass. and San Francisco. 1984).

Collection:

Graphometer marked B. Pike Jr.
Surveyor's Compass marked B. Pike and Son
Surveyor's Compass marked B. Pike and Sons
Transit marked B. Pike and Son