Colton Surveyor's Compass

Description
The floral decoration on the face of this compass is similar to that found on many other instruments made in New York around 1850. The rim is graduated every 30 minutes. A north–south level vial is on the north arm, and an east–west level vial is on the south arm. The signature reads "L. Colton, New York." As the tag on the south arm indicates, the compass belonged to the University of Pittsburgh.
Levi Colton (1803-1885) was born in Massachusetts, and trained as a jeweler and silversmith. He may have learned the art of instrument making from Richard Patten, for whom he worked in Washington, D.C. in 1846, and who described Colton as “a quite steady and industrious man.” Around 1850 Colton was making compasses in New York City, and in the mid-1850s he was making compasses in Hartford, Conn.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
compass
maker
Colton, Levi
Measurements
overall length: 14 1/2 in; 36.83 cm
needle: 5 1/4 in; 13.335 cm
ID Number
PH*334887
catalog number
334887
accession number
315134
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
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.

Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.