Balch Surveyor's Compass

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The paper card on this wooden compass is marked "THOS H. BALCH Maker State Street NEWBURYPORT." The signature refers to Thomas H. Balch (1771-1817) who advertised in the Newburyport [Massachusetts] Herald for August 8, 1806, that his shop could be found under the Sign of the Mariner's Compass. Like many artisans, Balch did not make every part of every instrument that carried his name. From research in local records, Martha Fales found that a local cabinet maker named George Short made the boxes for Balch's nautical compasses.
Ref: Martha G. Fales, "Makers of Mariners' Compasses in Newburyport," American Neptune 28 (1968): 144-145.
Currently not on view
Balch, Thomas H.
Short, George
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Newburyport
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
overall length: 16 1/16 in; 40.79875 cm
overall: 8 1/8 in x 16 1/8 in x 8 in; 20.6375 cm x 40.9575 cm x 20.32 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
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Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Surveying and Geodesy
Data Source
National Museum of American History