Stackpole & Brother Transit

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A. J. Kirby of Westchester County, New York, acquired this instrument around 1870 and used it for about 50 years. His son donated it to the Smithsonian in 1930. The instrument is unusual in several ways: the telescope is transit-mounted but too long to transit, and an adjustable strut at the objective end holds the telescope at a fixed angle of elevation. The horizontal circle is silvered, graduated to 20 minutes, and read by opposite verniers to 20 seconds. A magnetic compass in the center of the circle is suitable only for rough orientation, and a hanging level is below the telescope. The signature reads "Stackpole & Brother, New York 939."
F. E. Brandis, who was working for Stackpole at the time this instrument was made, later incorporated some of its features-most notably the long transit mounted telescope and the adjustable strut-in what he called his Improved City Transit.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1870
Stackpole and Brother
place made
United States: New York, New York
overall: 8 1/2 in; 21.59 cm
horizontal circle: 5 1/2 in; 13.97 cm
telescope: 13 in; 33.02 cm
overall: 9 in x 6 1/8 in x 12 15/16 in; 22.86 cm x 15.5575 cm x 32.86125 cm
ID Number
maker number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Richard S. Kirby
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Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
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Surveying and Geodesy
Data Source
National Museum of American History


I am in possession of a "Stackpole & Brother # 972". It has a sticker inside the carrying box from "Keuffel & Esser Co." New York. The box has a place for additional pieces in the door. I like the piece for its uniqueness but I really don't know what to do with it.
I have this same instrument that I believe belonged to my grandfather.. Just thought someone might like to know about it. It was in its original wooden case.
I have one. The Stackpole brothers were my Uncles. I collect anything Stackpole. I hope you enjoy it! I love my Family history!

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