Gurley Solar Compass

This instrument belonged to the U. S. Geological Survey, a federal agency that was established in 1879. It was made around 1880, and transferred to the Smithsonian in 1920. The horizontal circle is silvered, graduated to 30 minutes, and read by opposite verniers to single minutes. The signature reads "W. & L. E. Gurley, Troy, N.Y." The auxiliary telescope, which attaches to either sight vane, is marked "PAT. JULY 9, 1878," and is described by the patent (#205,712) that was granted to William and Lewis E. Gurley in 1878.
Ref: W. & L. E. Gurley, Manual of the Principal Instruments used in American Engineering and Surveying (Troy, N. Y., 1878), p. 70.
Currently not on view
Object Name
compass (solar)
date made
ca 1880
W. & L. E. Gurley
overall length: 15 in; 38.1 cm
telescope: 8 1/2 in; 21.59 cm
place made
United States: New York, Troy
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
Credit Line
U.S. Geological Survey
W. & L. E. Gurley. Manual of the Prinicipal Instruments Used in American Engineering and Surveying; 23rd Edition

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