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:


length 13.75 inches; needle 5.5 inches

This is a wooden compass with a paper card. The signature refers to Anthony Davenport, who ran a mathematical instrument shop At the Sign of the Quadrant and Compass in Portland, Maine, during the period 1823-1838. Most of his wares were for nautical use but, according to an undated trade card now in the Mystic Seaport Museum, he also sold "Brass and Wood Surveyors' COMPASSES." The Davenport signature on this compass appears on a small circle of paper that has been pasted over the name of the man for whom the compass card was originally made. The words "Callender scp." on the card refer to Joseph Callendar (1751-1821), an engraver who produced the plates for the compasses and trade cards used by several New England instrument makers and dealers.

Ref: Davenport's advertisements in the New American Practical Navigator (1826 and 1838).

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Surveyor's Compass