The style of this compass suggests that it was made in the late eighteenth
century. The signature refers to William Dean who, in an advertisement of June
4, 1792, described himself as a "mathematical instrument maker" who
had "commenced business" at No. 43, South Front Street, Philadelphia,
"directly opposite the post-office." In another advertisement, this
one dated January 31, 1794, Dean announced that he made and sold "Surveying
instruments of every description, Theodolets, Circumferentors on an improved
plan, with a noneus, &c., Leveling instruments with or without telescopes,
Sextants, Quadrants, Mariner’s Compasses, &c. and every article requisite
for navigation, surveying, levelling, &c."
Ref: Charles Smart, The Makers of Surveying Instruments in America Since
1700 (Troy, N.Y., 1962), pp. 36-37.
Advertisements in Dunlap’s American Daily Advertiser for June 4,
1792 and January 31, 1794.