Gurley Surveyor's Compass

W. & L. E. Gurley submitted this instrument to the U. S. Patent Office in support of their application for a patent describing an Improvement in Telescope Attachments for Surveyors’ Compasses. The patent (#205,742) was issued on July 9, 1878. The Patent Office transferred this model to the Smithsonian in 1926.
The basic instrument is a standard small compass with a north-south level on the north arm, and an east-west level and an outkeeper on the south arm. The hand-engraved signature indicates that the compass was made before the middle of 1876. The telescope, which attaches to one of the sight vanes, was presumably made shortly before the patent application was submitted in June 1878. The signature reads "W. & L. E. Gurley" and "Troy, N.Y."
Currently not on view
W. & L. E. Gurley
place made
United States: New York, Troy
overall length: 12 3/4 in; 32.385 cm
needle: 4 in; 10.16 cm
telescope: 8 5/8 in; 21.9329 cm
overall; case: 4 1/4 in x 13 3/4 in x 6 5/8 in; 10.795 cm x 34.925 cm x 16.8275 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
patent number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Surveying and Geodesy
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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