Simpson Surveyor's Vernier Compass

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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
overall: 8 7/8 in x 15 1/8 in x 6 1/2 in; 22.5425 cm x 38.4175 cm x 16.51 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Fordham University
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Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Surveying and Geodesy
Data Source
National Museum of American History