Surveyor's Chain

Surveyor's Chain

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In 1620 an English mathematician and astronomer named Edmund Gunter described a surveyor's chain with 100 links, measuring 66 feet (22 yards or 4 poles) overall. By this design, one square chain equals 484 square yards, ten square chains equal an acre, and eighty chains equal a mile. Gunther's design proved extremely popular, especially in English lands. This example belonged to John Johnson (1771-1841), the Surveyor General of Vermont. It is made of steel, with round handles at either end, brass tallies every 10 links, and swivels every 25 links. Each link is joined to the next by three rings, and each unit (link and three rings) is 7.92 inches long.
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Object Name
Surveyor's Chain (Gunter)
Johnson, John
Gunter, Edmund
overall length: 66 ft; 20.1168 m
overall, bundled: 3 1/2 in x 10 in x 6 1/2 in; 8.89 cm x 25.4 cm x 16.51 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
John Johnson Allen
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Surveying and Geodesy
Measuring & Mapping
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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