Heller & Brightly Transit

Heller & Brightly advertised this as an Improved Complete Combined Transit and Leveling Instrument For Civil Engineers and Surveyors. This example is marked "Heller & Brightly Makers 5512 Philadelphia." It was made around 1882 and cost $220 new. The horizontal circle is silvered, graduated every 30 minutes of arc, and read by two verniers to single minutes; one vernier is covered by a level vial. The vertical arc, also silvered, is read by a single vernier to 30 seconds. The joints are sealed to keep dust out of the working parts. To reduce weight, the vertical standards are ribbed and braced. To reduce backlash, the tangent screw is provided with a fixed spiral spring and follower.
This instrument is equipped so that a surveyor can determine horizontal distances by observing a distant graduated rod. To that end, it has an exceptionally powerful telescope, and its eyepiece has two horizontal wires so arranged that they encompass a tenth of a foot on a rod placed at a distance of 100 feet. Stadia surveying, as this practice is known, originated in Europe in the late 18th century and was introduced to the United States in the 1840s. The box in which the transit is packed is equipped with springs to accommodate the instrument in any direction. A solar attachment designed by George N. Saegmuller, and marked "HELLER & BRIGHTLY MAKERS PHILA." and "PAT. May 3. 81," is included.
Ref: Heller & Brightly, Remarks on Surveying Instruments (Philadelphia, 1886).
Currently not on view
Object Name
Heller & Brightly
overall (without leveling base): 11 1/2 in; 29.21 cm
horizontal circle: 7 1/2 in; 19.05 cm
magnetic compass: 5 1/4 in; 13.335 cm
telescope: 11 1/2 in; 29.21 cm
hanging level: 6 1/4 in; 15.875 cm
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
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, Kenneth E. Behring Center


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