W. J. Young Surveyor's Vernier Compass

This compass is marked "Wm. J. Young Maker Philadelphia." It is not dated, but we know that William J. Young began using this particular signature around 1840, and he began putting serial numbers on his instruments in the early 1850s. The variation arc on the north arm extends 27 degrees either way. The vernier is moved by rack and pinion located on the south arm and hidden under a brass plate, and reads to 5 minutes. A circular level vial is on the south arm and an outkeeper on the north arm. The face is dark, and the needle ring was probably silvered originally.
Ref.: D. J. Warner, "William J. Young. From Craft to Industry in a Skilled Trade," Pennsylvania History 52 (1985): 53-68.
Currently not on view
Object Name
compass (surveyor's vernier)
Young, William J.
overall length: 14 in; 35.56 cm
needle: 5 in; 12.7 cm
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
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