Dod Surveyor's Compass

Lebbeus Dod (1739–1816) made clocks and mathematical instruments in Mendham, New Jersey. During the Revolution he established an armory for the manufacture and repair of muskets. Various design features—the face reads clockwise, the bar is narrow, and the vertical sights are held in place with dovetails—indicate that this compass dates from early in Dod's career. The signature reads "Lebbeus Dod, Mendham."
This compass was owned by King's College, which had been established by royal charter as the College of the Province of New–York in the City of New–York in America in 1754. An advertisement of that date mentions instruction in such subjects as numbering, measuring, surveying, and navigation. King's College was renamed Columbia College after the Revolution.
Ref: Silvio A. Bedini, Thinkers and Tinkers. Early American Men of Science (New York, 1973), p. 241.
William E. Drost, Clocks and Watches of New Jersey (Elizabeth, N.J., 1966), pp. 98–104.
Currently not on view
Object Name
compass (surveyor's plain)
Dod, Lebbeus
overall length: 14 1/2 in; 36.83 cm
needle: 5 1/4 in; 13.335 cm
place made
United States: New Jersey, Mendham
ID Number
catalog number
accession 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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