Surveyor's Compass

Surveyor's Compass

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The "Made by Thomas Harland Norwich" inscription on the face of this surveyor's compass refers to Thomas Harland (1735–1807), an English clockmaker who settled in Norwich, Conn., in 1773. By 1790 Harland had a dozen or so apprentices and was producing some 40 clocks and 200 watches a year. An advertisement in the Norwich Courier of February 10, 1802, notes that Harland made and sold "Surveyors' Compasses, with agate centre needles."
With its narrow bar holding the vertical sights, this example resembles an English instrument of much earlier date. Since the face of the compass has no direction letters, it could be read either clockwise or counterclockwise. The "I.W.B. 1800" signature on the bottom of this compass may refer to an owner.
Ref: Silvio A. Bedini, "Thomas Harland of Norwich, Connecticut," Professional Surveyor (July/August 1991): 60, 67.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Surveyor's Compass
surveyor's compass
date made
around 1800
Harland, Thomas
place made
United States: Connecticut, Norwich
overall length: 9 7/8 in; 25.0825 cm
needle: 4 in; 10.16 cm
overall: 6 7/8 in x 9 7/8 in; 17.4625 cm x 25.0825 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Surveying and Geodesy
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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