Surveyor's Vernier Compass

Surveyor's Vernier Compass

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This surveyor's vernier compass is marked "Wm. J. Young Maker Philadelphia." It is not dated, but we know that William J. Young began using this particular signature around 1840, and he began putting serial numbers on his instruments in the early 1850s. The variation arc on the north arm extends 27 degrees either way. The vernier is moved by rack and pinion located on the south arm and hidden under a brass plate, and reads to 5 minutes. There is a circular level vial on the south arm and an outkeeper on the north arm. The face is dark, and the needle ring was probably silvered originally.
This compass belonged to David Newton Ellis (1850-1926), the County Surveyor of Monroe County, West Virginia.
Ref.: D. J. Warner, "William J. Young. From Craft to Industry in a Skilled Trade," Pennsylvania History 52 (1985): 53-68.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Surveyor's Compass
Young, William J.
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
overall length: 14 in; 35.56 cm
needle: 5 in; 12.7 cm
overall: 8 5/8 in x 13 5/8 in x 6 1/4 in; 21.9075 cm x 34.6075 cm x 15.875 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Elizabeth Ellis Miller and J. Vance Miller in Memory of David Newton Ellis
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Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Surveying and Geodesy
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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