Buff & Buff Transit

This is marked "Buff & Buff Mfg. Co. Boston 8215" and PAT'D NOV. 13-1900" and "Public Service Railway Co." It is similar, in all important respects, to the instrument that George L. Buff designed in 1866, and that Buff & Berger began making in 1871. Buff & Buff continued the tradition, boasting that this instrument "is not the product of today nor of a few years, but the crowning result of over forty years' experience in dealing with a very critical clientele." A Precise Transit No. 1C cost $234 in 1907, and was still being offered in 1938. This example belonged to the New Jersey Transit Bus Operations, Inc.
The horizontal and vertical circles are silvered, graduated to 30 minutes of arc, and read by verniers to single minutes. There is a clamp and tangent to the telescope axis. The finish, termed Golden Bronze, was described in 1938 as "unique and characteristic" of Buff instruments. "It is not glaring, but is bright enough to throw off all objectionable heat rays."
Ref: Buff & Buff Mfg. Co., High Grade Engineering, Surveying, Astronomical and Mining Instruments (Boston, 1907), pp. 7, 28, and 36-41.
Buff & Buff Mfg. Co., Surveying Instruments for Civil and Mining Engineers (Boston, 1938), pp. 6, 15, 39, and 41-45.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Buff and Buff Manufacturing Company
overall: 14 in; 35.56 cm
horizontal circle: 6 1/4 in; 15.875 cm
needle: 4 1/4 in; 10.795 cm
vertical circle: 5 in; 12.7 cm
telescope: 12 in; 30.48 cm
hanging level: 6 in; 15.24 cm
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Boston
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
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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