This unusual instrument is probably best described as a precise level with a graduated horizontal circle. The telescope is provided with a long and graduated level vial, and an ingenious clamp and tangent screw moving against the silvered vertical arc controls its elevation. This arc extends 20 degrees either way, and is graduated to 10 minutes and read by vernier to 20 seconds. The horizontal circle is silvered, graduated to 15 minutes, and read by opposite verniers with reflecting glasses and magnifiers to 30 seconds. A trough compass and a circular level are mounted above the horizontal circle. The signature reads "Wm. Würdemann, Washington, D.C. 565."

The U. S. War Department transferred this instrument to the Smithsonian in 1931, in a pine box marked "Capt. M. C. Meigs, Washington Aqueduct -Wurdemann--Grading Transit--1854." It was used by Montgomery C. Meigs, the captain in the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers who was tasked with surveying the course of a new Washington Aqueduct in 1853. Since William Würdemann was the leading mathematical instrument maker in Washington at that time, it is reasonable that he was asked to make instruments for this important task.

Date Made: 1854

Maker: Würdemann, William

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: District of Columbia, Washington

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


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: War Department

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: PH.310299Accession Number: 115960Catalog Number: 310299

Object Name: Gradienterlevel

Measurements: overall: 8 1/2 in; 21.59 cmhorizontal circle: 5 1/2 in; 13.97 cmneedle: 4 1/4 in; 10.795 cmtelescope: 11 1/4 in; 28.575 cmlevel: 5 1/2 in; 13.97 cmoverall: 8 7/8 in x 12 1/2 in x 6 1/2 in; 22.5425 cm x 31.75 cm x 16.51 cm


Record Id: nmah_748233

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