Shilling Gradienter

This instrument is signed "Geo. Shilling Washn D.C." and "15. U.S.G.S." It was made after 1882 when George Shilling went into business, and before 1907, when the U.S. Geological Survey transferred it to the Smithsonian. The horizontal circle and vertical arc are silvered, graduated to 30 minutes, and read by verniers to single minutes. A trough compass and level vial sit atop the telescope; a circular level sits on the horizontal circle, obscuring most of Shilling's signature.
George Shilling (1844–1917) was born and educated in Norway and moved to the United States in 1867. In 1882, after working in several American instrument shops, he went into business on his own as a manufacturer of surveying and astronomical instruments. His shop was in Washington, D.C., and the federal government was his biggest customer.
Ref: Historical and Commercial Sketches of Washington and Environs (Washington, D.C., 1884), p. 194.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Shilling, George
horizontal circle: 3 1/2 in; 8.89 cm
telescope: 8 1/2 in; 21.59 cm
place made
United States: District of Columbia, Washington
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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