Benjamin Hanks (1755-1824) apprenticed with Thomas Harland, an English clock maker
who had recently migrated to Norwich, Connecticut. By 1777 Hanks was in business on his own
in Windham, Connecticut. Like many American mechanics of that time, Hanks applied his skills
in several directions. While specializing in clocks and watches, for instance, he asked the
General Assembly to supply funds so that he could construct looms for weaving stockings.
Hanks moved to Litchfield in 1780, and advertised surveyor's compasses in 1785. In 1786 he
began casting bells. In 1808, now living in Mansfield and working in partnership with his son
Julius, Hanks was making vernier compasses or, as he advertised, "surveyor's compasses upon
the Rittenhouse improved plan."
This compass was probably made early in Hanks's career. The face reads clockwise, and
the bar is narrow. One unusual feature is the clinometer scale at the south end of the face, which
could be used to measure vertical angles; the clinometer needle is missing.
Ref: Penrose R. Hoopes, Connecticut Clockmakers of the Eighteenth Century (Hartford,
1930), pp. 79-83.
Charles E. Smart, American Surveying Instruments and Their Makers (Troy, 1962), pp.