Prentice Surveyor's Compass

James Prentice (1812–1888) was born in London and trained as an instrument maker. He began in business in New York in 1842, importing and manufacturing mathematical instruments. Later advertisements mention optical, meteorological, and electrical apparatus as well. The firm became James Prentice & Son in 1883, and James Prentice & Son Company in 1897.
The compass marked "J. Prentice, 66 Nassau St., N. Y." was made around 1860, when Prentice was working at this address. The rim is graduated to 30 minutes. There is a north–south level vial on the north arm, and an east–west level on the south arm.
Currently not on view
Object Name
surveyor's compass
Prentice, James
overall length: 14 1/8 in; 35.8775 cm
needle: 5 in; 12.7 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Measuring & Mapping
Surveying and Geodesy
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Surveying and Geodesy
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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.