Smithsonian - National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Physical Sciences Collection - Surveying and Geodesy

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Catalogue number:

"No. 172 Edward Kübel, Washington, DC"

height 14 inches; horizontal circle 9 inches diameter; graduated horizontal circle 8 inches diameter; vertical circle 4.25 inches diameter; telescope 18 inches long


Edward Kübel (1820-1896) was born in Bavaria, moved to Washington, D.C. around 1849, and went to work as foreman for William Würdemann. In 1875 he went into business on his own, advertising that he "continues to manufacture the class of Astronomical and Geodetical Instruments formerly made by Mr. Würdemann." According to an account written in 1884, Kübel employed 7 or 8 skilled workmen, and his business was principally for the United States government.

This instrument was made for the United States Geological Survey, which was organized in 1879. It was transferred to the Smithsonian in 1907. The inscription on the tripod base reads "U.S.G.S. 8IN No. 1." The horizontal circle is silvered, graduated to 20 minutes, and read by opposite verniers and magnifiers to 20 seconds. The vertical circle is silvered, graduated to 20 minutes of arc, and read by vernier and magnifier to single minutes.

Ref: Silvio Bedini, "Edward Kübel (1820-1896) Washington, D.C. Instrument Maker," Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences 85 (1998): 247-279.

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