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
Object Name
surveyor's compass
date made
ca 1800-1850
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
overall: 14 1/2 in; 36.83 cm
needle: 5 1/2 in; 13.97 cm
Place Made
United States: New York
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Measuring & Mapping
Artifact Walls exhibit
Surveying and Geodesy
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Artifact Walls exhibit
Surveying and Geodesy
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Preston R. Bassett
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.