Stancliffe Surveyor's Vernier Compass

This compass is marked "B. Stancliffe - Philada Maker" and "Warranted." It has a variation arc on the north arm that extends 22 degrees to either side; the vernier is moved by rack and pinion and reads to 5 minutes. A spirit level is on the south arm. The signature refers to Benjamin Stancliffe (1782-1834) who was born in England, apprenticed with his uncle, John Stancliffe, a noted instrument maker in London, and worked for Edward Troughton making sophisticated geodetic instruments for the fledgling United States Coast Survey. Stancliffe then migrated to America, appearing in Philadelphia directories as early as 1817. In 1828 he went into partnership with his former apprentice, Edmund Draper. By 1832 Stancliffe was again in business on his own, advertising that he manufactured "all kinds of mathematical, optical, and philosophical instruments," including surveyor's compasses, theodolites, sextants, and quadrants.
Ref: Robert C. Miller, "Benjamin Stancliffe and His Successors: A Century of Mathematical Instrument Makers in Philadelphia," Rittenhouse 11 (1996): 1-13.
Currently not on view
Stancliffe, Benjamin
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
overall length: 14 1/8 in; 35.8775 cm
needle: 5 in; 12.7 cm
overall in case: 4 in x 16 1/2 in x 8 3/16 in; 10.16 cm x 41.91 cm x 20.79625 cm
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accession number
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Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Surveying and Geodesy
Data Source
National Museum of American History