Surveyor's Transit


This instrument was made by Stackpole & Brother in the 1860s, and sold to Benjamin S. Olmsted, an engineer in Rye, N.Y. A. J. Kirby of Westchester County, New York, acquired it around 1870 and used it for many years. His son gave it to the Smithsonian in 1930.

The instrument is unusual in several ways: the telescope is transit-mounted but too long to transit, and an adjustable strut at the objective end holds the telescope at a fixed angle of elevation. The horizontal circle is silvered, graduated to 20 minutes, and read by opposite verniers to 20 seconds. A magnetic compass in the center of the circle is suitable only for rough orientation, and a hanging level is below the telescope. The inscription reads "Stackpole & Brother, New York 939."

F. E. Brandis, who was working for Stackpole at the time this instrument was made, later incorporated some of its features--most notably the long transit mounted telescope and the adjustable strut--in what he called his Improved City Transit.

Date Made: ca 1870ca 1865

Maker: Stackpole and Brother

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: New York, New York City

See more items in: Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences, Surveying and Geodesy, Measuring & Mapping


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Richard S. Kirby

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: PH.309850AMaker Number: 939Accession Number: 110078Catalog Number: 309850A

Object Name: surveyor's transit

Measurements: overall: 8 1/2 in; 21.59 cmhorizontal circle: 5 1/2 in; 13.97 cmtelescope: 13 in; 33.02 cmoverall: 9 in x 6 1/8 in x 12 15/16 in; 22.86 cm x 15.5575 cm x 32.86125 cm


Record Id: nmah_747833

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