Gurley Abney Level

Gurley Abney Level

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William de Wiveleslie Abney (1843–1920), an English scientist who made many important contributions to spectroscopy and photography, devised this level in the 1870s while working for the School of Military Engineering at Chatham. W. & L. E. Gurley described it as an English modification of the Locke hand level, noting that it gives angles of elevation "and is also divided for slopes, as 1 to 2, 2 to 1, etc."
The University of Missouri, Columbia, gave this example to the Smithsonian Institution in 1972. Since the main tube is square, it can be applied to any plane surface. The clinometer scale is graduated to degrees, and read by vernier to 5 minutes. The inscription reads "W. & L. E. GURLEY TROY, N.Y." New, it cost $15.
Ref: W. & L. E. Gurley, A Manual of the Principal Instruments Used in American Engineering and Surveying (Troy, N.Y., 1893), p. 228.
C. Jones, "Sir William de Wiveleslie Abney, K.C.B., D.C.L., D.Sc., F.R.S., Hon. F.R.P.S., etc.," The Photographic Journal 61 (1921): 296–311.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Abney level
W. & L. E. Gurley
place made
United States: New York, Troy
box: 1 1/2 in x 2 7/8 in x 5 1/2 in; 3.81 cm x 7.3025 cm x 13.97 cm
level: 1 1/4 in x 2 1/8 in x 4 3/4 in; 3.175 cm x 5.3975 cm x 12.065 cm
overall in case: 1 1/2 in x 5 9/16 in x 2 13/16 in; 3.81 cm x 14.12875 cm x 7.14375 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
University of Missouri-Columbia, Department of Civil Engineering
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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