Meneely & Oothout Surveyor's Vernier Compass

This compass is marked "Meneely & Oothout, West Troy, N.Y." It was made in 1837, and the word "Warranted" indicates a guarantee of quality. It has a variation arc on the south arm that extends 30 units either way; the vernier is moved by a heavy tangent screw on top of the south arm, and reads to 2 minutes. There are two levels on the north arm. The compass was originally owned by Joseph Ham, a surveyor in Dutchess County, New York.
Andrew Meneely (1802–1851) apprenticed with Julius Hanks, learning to cast bells and manufacture mathematical instruments. Returning to West Troy, N.Y., where he was born, Meneely established a successful brass foundry. In 1834 he advertised "Leveling and Surveying Instruments" as well as clocks and church bells. Meneely joined in partnership with Jonas V. Oothout (1814–1860) in January 1836, offering church bells, town clocks, theodolites, levels, and surveyor’s compasses of all kinds. The Meneely & Oothout partnership ended in 1838. Meneely then continued his business, taking his eldest son into partnership in 1849.
Ref: Conrad S. Ham, "A Family History of a Group of Surveying Instruments 1750 to the Present Year 1954," Annual Report of Proceedings of the Connecticut Society of Civil Engineers 70 (1954): 134-138.
Currently not on view
Object Name
compass (surveyor's vernier)
date made
Ham, Joseph
Meneely and Oothout
overall length: 16 in; 40.64 cm
needle: 5 3/4 in; 14.605 cm
Place Made
West Troy, New York
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
label 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
Credit Line
Conrad S. Ham
Connecticut Society of Civil Engineers. Annual Report of Proceedings of the Connecticut Society of Civil Engineers

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