Smithsonian - National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Physical Sciences Collection


John Paul Jones
John Paul Jones with a spyglass in one hand and an anchor under the other, 1779. More...

Historical navigation instruments illustrate the various ways that people have determined the location, direction, and speed of their ships at sea and in the air. Most of the instruments on this site were used by Americans engaged in commercial or military enterprises. They are housed in two bureaus of the Smithsonian Institution: the National Museum of American History and the National Air and Space Museum.

You may access the collection in the following ways:

Browse by Maker to view objects grouped by maker and to see selected biographies.

Browse by Instrument to view objects grouped by type and to read generic descriptions.

Or, view a complete index of the objects on the site.

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