Dean Surveyor's Compass

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
Object Name
surveyors compass
Dean, William
overall: 21 cm x 17 cm x 34 cm; 8 1/4 in x 6 11/16 in x 13 3/8 in
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Measuring & Mapping
Surveying and Geodesy
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Surveying and Geodesy
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Smart, Charles E.. Makers of Surveying Instruments in America Since 1700

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