King Surveyor's Compass

The “C.G. King Boston” signature refers to Charles Gedney King (1808-1858), a mathematical instrument maker who apprenticed with his father, Gedney King, and traded under his own name after his father’s death in 1839. C. G. King showed his instruments at fairs sponsored by the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association in the 1840s and 1850s, and took home several silver medals.
King also announced he "Is now manufacturing and has for sale the largest assortment of Mathematical, Nautical, Engineers, Surveyors and Drafting Instruments to be found in the city." Moreover, the engineers’ and surveyors’ instruments manufactured in the King establishment, "are divided upon a new Engine, made expressly for the purpose, the performance of which, for the accuracy of its division, cannot be surpassed, if equalled, by any Engine in the Country."
The rim of this example is graduated to 30 minutes. There are two level vials on the south arm.
Ref: "Evidence of the Enterprise," Rittenhouse 1 (1987): 90.
Object Name
surveyor's compass
King, Charles Gedney
overall length: 15 5/8 in; 39.6875 cm
needle: 5 in; 12.7 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog 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

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