Simpson Surveyor's Vernier Compass

This compass, marked "J. SIMPSON BARDSTOWN KY," has an unusual and ornate face decorated with Masonic symbols. The variation arc on the north arm extends 10 degrees in either way; the vernier is moved by rack and pinion, and reads to 10 minutes. A level vial is on the south arm. The signature refers to Jonathan Simpson (1787-1863), who was was working in Kentucky by 1820, and who advertised in the Bardstown newspaper, The Republican, on October 3, 1844: "I shall keep on hand a constant supply of SILVERWORK of my own manufacture-warranted to be as good as any manufactured in the United States, and at the Cincinnati prices. My necessities compel me to labour as much as ever I did. I have a few Surveying instruments on hand, which I will sell very low."
Currently not on view
Simpson, Jonathan
place made
United States: Kentucky, Bardstown
overall length: 15 1/4 in; 38.735 cm
needle: 5 1/2 in; 13.97 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Fordham University
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Surveying and Geodesy
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


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