Sisson Waywiser

This waywiser has a wooden frame, and a dial of silvered brass with the usual scales, one for poles and furlongs and the other for miles. The "J. Sisson LONDON" signature refers to Jonathan Sisson (c. 1690–1749) or his son, Jeremiah Sisson (1720–1783).
A waywiser consists of a large wheel that can roll along a level surface, and a dial that registers the distance traveled. The wheel usually measures 8.25 feet in circumference, such that 2 revolutions are equal to 1 pole. The larger hand on the dial makes one sweep per mile (320 poles or 8 furlongs). The shorter hand indicates the number of miles traveled. Waywisers became popular in England in the 18th century, and were still in use in the United States in the late 19th century. They were was also known as perambulators.
Ref: Jane Insley, "Odometer," in Robert Bud and Deborah Warner, eds., Instruments of Science (New York and London, 1998), pp.423–424.
Object Name
Sisson, Jonathan
place made
United Kingdom: England, London
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
catalog number
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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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