Buff & Buff Altitude and Azimuth Instrument

Buff & Buff termed this an "air-craft theodolite" as made for the U. S. Weather Bureau, noting that it could be used for aeronautic or military purposes. The Signal Corps of the U. S. Army acquired this example around the time of World War I, and transferred it to the Smithsonian in 1923. The horizontal and vertical circles are read by verniers to 6 minutes of arc. The finish is anodized. Since the telescope is "broken," the eyepiece remains at the same height regardless of the elevation of the objective. A. De Quervan introduced this design in 1905, and it remains popular to this day.
Ref: Buff & Buff, Surveying Instruments (Boston, 1918), p. 104.
U.S. Department of Agriculture. Weather Bureau, Instructions for Making Pilot Balloon Observations (Washington, D.C., 1928).
U.S. Army, Meteorological Observer. Training Manual No. 31 (Washington, D.C., 1925), pp. 183-189.
Currently not on view
Object Name
altitude and azimuth instrument
Buff and Buff Manufacturing Company
overall: 13 in; 33.02 cm
horizontal circle aperture: 9 in; 22.86 cm
vertical circle aperture: 6 1/4 in; 15.875 cm
telescope objective aperture: 1 3/4 in; 4.445 cm
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Boston
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
Buff & Buff Mfg. Co.. Surveying Instruments
U.S. Department of Agriculture. Weather Bureau. Instructions for Making Pilot Balloon Observations
U.S. Army. Meteorological Observer. Training Manual No. 31

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.