Smithsonian - National Museum of American History, Behring Center

 
Physical Sciences Collection - Surveying and Geodesy

Browse Makers | Browse Instruments | Index

Back
 

Surveyor's Compass - click to enlarge

Surveyor's Compass - click to enlarge

Click photos to enlarge.

Surveyor's Compass

Catalogue number:
1980.0809.01

Inscriptions:
"G*CHANDLEE W." and "J:J: WELSH"

Dimensions:
length 14.5 inches; needle 6 inches

Discussion:
Goldsmith Chandlee (1751-1821) was born in Nottingham, Maryland, and apprenticed with his father Benjamin Chandlee, himself a notable clock and instrument maker. Goldsmith moved to Stephensburg, Virginia, in 1775. The W on this compass refers to Winchester, Virginia, where Chandlee settled in 1783.

Some twenty-two Goldsmith Chandlee compasses are known today, and almost all have an L/T table. In this example, the table appears on the south arm. This L/T table converts links of a chain to tenths of perches, and vice versa, thus helping the surveyor determine the length of the line that had been run. A perch, in England and the United States, was equal to 16.5 feet.

All Goldsmith Chandlee compasses have an outkeeper and a dial. In this example, this appears at the south end of the face. Most Goldsmith Chandlee compasses were made to order, and the name of the original owner is engraved on the face. J.J. Welsh, whose name appears on our compass, has not been identified.

Ref: Edward E. Chandlee, ed., Six Quaker Clockmakers (Philadelphia, 1943), pp. 105-146.

Richard Elgin, "On Goldsmith Chandlee," Professional Surveyor 21 (December 2001): 16-26.

Further Information:

Surveyor's Compass

Back