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
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).