Beckmann Wye Level

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This level is complex and unusual. With the telescope in its standard position, it can be used as a standard architect's level. With the telescope turned 90 degrees from its standard position, it can be used to measure horizontal angles. To effect this, the telescope is turned so that the level is on top and a metal fitting falls below. There is some resemblance between this level and A. S. Aloe's Convertible Level. The signature reads "THE L. BECKMANN CO. TOLEDO, O. U.S.A 9065."
Louis Beckmann (1845–1914) was born in Germany. He arrived in the United States in 1870, settled in Toledo, Ohio. in 1874, and built his first dividing engine in 1878. A second dividing engine was designed in 1900, and yet another was begun in 1912. In a catalog, unfortunately undated, Beckmann wrote: "As the plates of my instruments are divided on one of the very best dividing engines of this country I can guarantee their graduation to be exact and accurately centered, both verniers reading the same." Sears, Roebuck advertised surveying instruments signed "L. Beckmann Co." during the period 1909–1911. Louis Beckmann Jr. continued manufacturing instruments until 1945, and repairing them until 1951.
Ref: L. Beckmann, Illustrated Catalogue and Price List of Civil Engineers' and Surveyors' Instruments (Toledo, Ohio, n.d.).
Charles Smart, The Makers of Surveying Instruments in America Since 1700 (Troy, N.Y., 1962), p. 6.
Currently not on view
L. Beckmann Co.
place made
United States: Ohio, Toledo
telescope: 12 in; 30.48 cm
needle: 3 in; 7.62 cm
overall in case: 8 1/2 in x 14 in x 5 1/2 in; 21.59 cm x 35.56 cm x 13.97 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
The University of Toledo, Department of Civil Engineering
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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