Smithsonian - National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Physical Sciences Collection - Surveying and Geodesy

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Transit - click to enlarge

Transit - click to enlarge

Click photos to enlarge.


Catalogue number:

"Stackpole & Brother New York 655"

height 13.25 inches; horizontal circle 6 inches diameter; vertical circle 5 inches diameter; needle 4.5 inches; telescope 10 inches long; hanging level 6 inches long


The Museum has the original bill of sale, which indicates that John Ferris, a surveyor of Dutchess County, New York, bought this transit from Stackpole & Brother in 1866. The basic instrument cost $250, while the meridian finder--marked "Stackpole's Mern. Findr. Patented, Sep. 26, 1865 107"--cost an additional $40. William Stackpole's patent (#50,182) describes a small reflector that attaches to the objective end of the telescope, and that enables a surveyor to easily use the sun to locate the true meridian.

Ref: Conrad S. Ham, "A Family History of a Group of Surveying Instruments, 1750 to the Present Year 1954," Annual Report of Proceedings of the Connecticut Society of Civil Engineers, 70 (1954): 134-138.

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