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 5740 Philadelphia." The serial number indicates that it was made around 1884. New, the basic transit cost $220. The vertical circle was an extra $25. The horizontal circle is silvered, graduated every 30 minutes of arc, and read by verniers at N and S to single minutes. There are level vials at N (this one covers a vernier) and at E. The vertical circle, also silvered, is read by vernier to single minutes, and is protected by an aluminum guard. To reduce weight, the vertical standards are ribbed and braced. The telescope is equipped with stadia wires for determining distances.
The tripod head of this transit allows the instrument to be leveled, and also to be adjusted horizontally in order to be brought over a fixed point on the ground. Daniel Hoffman obtained a patent (#197,369) on this design in 1877, and assigned the rights to Heller & Brightly in exchange for $5 for each unit sold.
Ref: Heller & Brightly, Remarks on Surveying Instruments (Philadelphia, 1886).
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
ca 1884
Heller & Brightly
overall: 15 1/2 in; 39.37 cm
horizontal circle: 7 1/2 in; 19.05 cm
vertical circle: 5 1/4 in; 13.335 cm
needle: 5 in; 12.7 cm
telescope: 11 1/4 in; 28.575 cm
hanging level: 6 in; 15.24 cm
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
ID Number
catalog number
accession 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
Heller & Brightly. Remarks on Surveying Instruments
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

11/15/2015 10:18:06 PM
David Wurst
I own a Heller and Brightly also made in 1884 Mine is serial no. 5712 Mine is solid brass What is the difference between the black painted instruments and the solid brass ones?
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