Gurley Vara Chain

This chain is marked "W. & L. E. GURLEY" and "20 VARA STEEL No. 12." It has 100 links made of No. 12 steel wire, brass handles and tallies, and measures 20 varas overall. The links and rings are brazed shut. Gurley began offering vara chains in 1874, noting that the Spanish or Mexican vara "is in very general use in Texas, Mexico, Cuba, and South America." The vara is roughly equivalent to 33 inches, but was never standardized as were the yard and the meter.
Ref: W. & L. E. Gurley, Manual of the Principal Instrument Used in American Engineering and Surveying (Troy, N.Y., 1874), p. 44.
Currently not on view
Object Name
chain (vara)
W. & L. E. Gurley
overall: 4 in x 8 in x 7 in; 10.16 cm x 20.32 cm x 17.78 cm
place made
United States: New York, Troy
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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