Dean Surveyor's Compass

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The form of this compass suggests that it was made in the late 18th century. The "DEAN PHILAD" signature refers to William Dean who, in an advertisement of June 4, 1792, described himself as a "mathematical instrument maker" who had "commenced business" at No. 43, South Front Street, Philadelphia, "directly opposite the post-office." In another advertisement, this one dated January 31, 1794, Dean announced that he made and sold "Surveying instruments of every description, Theodolets, Circumferentors on an improved plan, with a noneus, &c., Leveling instruments with or without telescopes, Sextants, Quadrants, Mariner’s Compasses, &c. and every article requisite for navigation, surveying, levelling, &c."
Ref: Charles Smart, The Makers of Surveying Instruments in America Since 1700 (Troy, N.Y., 1962), pp. 36-37.
Advertisements in Dunlap’s American Daily Advertiser for June 4, 1792, and January 31, 1794.
Currently not on view
Dean, William
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
overall: 21 cm x 17 cm x 34 cm; 8 1/4 in x 6 11/16 in x 13 3/8 in
overall: 9 in x 12 3/4 in x 6 1/4 in; 22.86 cm x 32.385 cm x 15.875 cm
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accession number
catalog number
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Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Surveying and Geodesy
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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