Foster Surveyor's Vernier Compass

James Foster Jr. (1814-1873) began advertising as a mathematical and philosophical instrument maker in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1846. He showed his wares at several fairs sponsored by the Ohio Mechanics Institute in the 1850s. This compass belonged to Indiana State University. The rim is graduated every 30 minutes. The vernier on the north arm is moved by rack and pinion, and reads to single minutes. There is a circular level on the south arm. The signature reads "James Foster, Jr. Cincinnati, O."
Currently not on view
Object Name
surveyor's vernier compass
Foster, Jr., James
overall length: 15 in; 38.1 cm
needle: 5 1/2 in; 13.97 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
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.