Paulin Aneroid Altimeter

Paulin Aneroid Altimeter

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Usage conditions apply
Joshua Gabriel Paulin, in Sweden, developed an aneroid barometer with an adjustable capsule that was suitable for use in altimetry. This example is marked, on its face, “PRECISION ALTIMETER / Patented” and “System Paulin / Stockholm” and “MADE IN SWEDEN BY C.E. JOHANSSON, ESKILSTUNA.” The outer scale around the circumference extends from 4000 to 9700 feet and the inner one extends from -900 to +4000 feet, and both are graduated to 10-feet intervals. The back of the case in marked "MADE IN SWEDEN A1217 PAT'D U.S.A. SEPT 9-19 APR 13-26."
A gold label on the leather case reads “The American Paulin System INC. 1220 MAPLE AVENUE LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA.” This company termed this model “The ENGINEER” and, in 1929, sold it for $125.
Ref: J.G. Paulin, "Fluid-Pressure Indicator," U.S. Patent 1,315,858 (1919).
Paulin, "Instrument for Measuring Pressures and Forces," U.S. Patent 1,580,568 (1926).
W.E.K. Middleton, (Baltimore, 1964), pp. 421-422.
The American Paulin System, Inc., Catalog (1929), section III.
Currently not on view
Object Name
altimeter, aneroid
date made
ca 1929-1940
place made
Sweden: Södermanland, Eskilstuna
overall: 4 1/2 in; 11.43 cm
overall in case: 3 7/8 in x 5 7/8 in; 9.8425 cm x 14.9225 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
University of Missouri-Columbia
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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I don't understand the purpose of "leveling" in the nomenclature. Why is leveling needed? Most aneroids simply measure atmopheric pressure. What would this instrument be used for?
These instruments have certain components internally that, depending on orientation, can by their very weight and the action of that weight against the rest of the mechanism, slightly affect its reading. As such, these instruments were designed to be most accurate and in a 'neutral' state when leveled. When used in geological surveying along with a plane table and alidade, the table was leveled as well so that 'shots' taken through the alidade were also level and precisely related to the elevation this instrument was displaying. This was the method for producing topographic surveys prior to more modern technology.
I am curious as to why this device was eventually named the "American" Paulin System. Did an American company buy the patent?
I have a unit like this with an inner scale going from -800 to +1400 and the outer scale going from 1400 to 3600. This model was probably used for sea level work.
The instrument is used by engineers and especially geologist to determine true elevations and also to establish strike and dip of rock strata.

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