Sisson Theodolite

The basic form of this theodolite–with the telescope mounted on the open side of a semicircle–was introduced by Jonathan Sisson in London in 1737. In 1758 Edmund Stone described Sisson's theodolite as "certainly the best, most complete, handsome, and well designed Instrument possible." In this example, the vernier for the horizontal circle is moved by rack and pinion, and reads to 12 minutes. The front side of the vertical arc also reads by vernier to 12 minutes. The back side has a logarithmic scale. The "J. Sisson, London" signature refers to Jonathan Sisson (about 1690–1749) or his son, Jeremiah Sisson (1720–1783).
Ref: William Gardiner, Practical Surveying (London, 1737).
N. Bion, Construction and Use of Mathematical Instruments, English translation by Edmund Stone (London, 1758).
Currently not on view
Object Name
Sisson, Jonathan
overall: 9 in; 22.86 cm
horizontal circle: 5 in; 12.7 cm
telescope: 4 7/8 in; 12.3825 cm
place made
United Kingdom: England, London
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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