Smithsonian - National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Physical Sciences Collection - Surveying and Geodesy

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Surveyor's Compass - click to enlarge

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Surveyor's Compass

Catalogue number:

"Lebbeus Dod, Mendham"

length 14.5 inches; needle 5.25 inches

Lebbeus Dod (1739-1816) was a maker of clocks and mathematical instruments in Mendham, New Jersey. During the Revolution he established an armory for the manufacture and repair of muskets. Various design features--the face reads clockwise, the bar is narrow, and the vertical sights are held in place with dovetails--indicate that this compass dates from early in Dod's career.

This compass was owned by King's College, which had been established by royal charter as the College of the Province of New-York in the City of New-York in America in 1754. An advertisement of that date mentioned instruction in such subjects as numbering, measuring, surveying, and navigation. King's College was renamed Columbia College after the Revolution.

Ref: Silvio A. Bedini, Thinkers and Tinkers. Early American Men of Science (New York, 1973), p. 241.

William E. Drost, Clocks and Watches of New Jersey (Elizabeth, N.J., 1966), pp. 98-104.

Further Information:

Surveyor's Compass