Zeiss Automatic Level

Zeiss introduced the Model Ni2 Automatic Universal Level in 1951, with advertisements and articles in scientific journals and exhibitions at meetings of surveyors and geodesists. Terming the Ni2 a level of "radically new design," Zeiss noted that it was "the first 'automatic' level built in large quantities," and explained that its "ingenious compensating device automatically levels the line of sight with an accuracy of ± 0.3 seconds of arc." The Ni2 was remarkably successful. A Zeiss advertisement of 1970 boasted that the company had produced over 50,000 levels of this sort in the past 20 years.
This example is marked "Ni2 CARL ZEISS 26056 Germany" and "Keuffel & Esser Co. Sole distributors in the U.S.A. for Carl Zeiss surveying instruments." The Michael Baker Corporation purchased it new in 1961, and gave it to the Smithsonian in 1997. It was made in the Zeiss factory in Oberkochen, in the Federal Republic of Germany.
Ref: C. L. Peckinpaugh, Jr., "The Zeiss Opton Ni-2 Automatic Level," Surveying and Mapping 14 (1954): 185-191.
Currently not on view
Object Name
level (automatic)
overall: 10 1/4 in; 26.035 cm
place made
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Measuring & Mapping
Surveying and Geodesy
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Surveying and Geodesy
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
American Congress on Surveying and Mapping. Surveying and Mapping
Carl Zeiss. Level Ni2

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