Elliott Brothers Theodolite

Charles A. C. Eckhold, a German engineer living in Alexandria,Egypt, obtained a British patent for the omnimeter in 1868. Contemporary accounts term it an "important surveying instrument," noting that it "measures distances and altitudes with an extraordinary degree of accuracy and great economy of time and labor; it accomplishes, without being moved, the work of Theodolite, Level, and Chain, and may be used as an ordinary Theodolite."
The key feature of the Omnimeter is a tangential scale located across the horizontal circle that is read by a telescope mounted perpendicularly to the main telescope. This example is marked "Eckhold's Patent Omnimeter, No 26" and "Elliott Bros LONDON." It belonged to George Shattuck Morison (1842-1903), a prominent American engineer and bridge builder. The horizontal circle is silvered, beveled, graduated to 30 minutes, and read by opposite verniers to single minutes. The vertical circle is silvered`, graduated to 30 minutes, and read by opposite verniers and magnifiers to single minutes.
Ref: "Distances" in [Edward Spon], Spons' Dictionary of Engineering, Civil, Mechanical, Military, and Naval (London, 1872), pp. 1210-1214.
Eckhold's Patent Omnimeter, Manufactured by Elliott Brothers (London, n.d.)
"George Shattuck Morison," Civil Engineering 8 (1938): 288-289.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Elliott Brothers
overall: 15 1/4 in; 38.735 cm
horizontal circle: 5 3/8 in; 13.6525 cm
needle: 4 1/2 in; 11.43 cm
vertical circle: 5 3/8 in; 13.6525 cm
telescope: 13 in; 33.02 cm
place made
United Kingdom: England, London
ID Number
accession number
catalog 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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