Surveyor’s Compass

Like many compasses made in New York in the first half of the 19th century, this one has an ornate floral design on its face. Unlike most American compasses of the period, however, the face reads clockwise, and there is no maker's signature. The donor believed that James Griswold used this compass and the associated chain, pins, tally, and drawing instruments while laying out the New York and Erie Railroad.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1800-1850
Place Made
United States: New York
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
overall: 14 1/2 in; 36.83 cm
needle: 5 1/2 in; 13.97 cm
overall; compass: 2 3/4 in x 14 5/8 in x 6 1/2 in; 6.985 cm x 37.1475 cm x 16.51 cm
overall; brackets, each: 1 3/8 in x 7 5/8 in x 1 1/4 in; 3.4925 cm x 19.3675 cm x 3.175 cm
overall; cover: 5/8 in x 6 1/2 in; 1.5875 cm x 16.51 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Preston R. Bassett
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Artifact Walls exhibit
Surveying and Geodesy
Data Source
National Museum of American History