Abney Level

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 type of level in the 1870s while working for the School of Military Engineering at Chatham.
The inscriptions on this example read "KEUFFEL & ESSER CO. N.Y." and "29349." The vertical arc is marked "PERCENT" and graduated from 0 to 150 in both directions. Although the reference must be to percent of grade, the graduations are not regular, and their meaning is not yet understood. Keuffel & Esser described this as a Topographic Abney Level, "as made by us for the U.S. Forest Service." New, it cost $28.
Ref: Keuffel & Esser, Catalogue (New York, 1921), p. 365.
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
Keuffel & Esser Co.
case: 6 3/4 in x 3 1/4 in x 1 1/2 in; 17.145 cm x 8.255 cm x 3.81 cm
level: 6 1/2 in; 16.51 cm
arc: 3 1/2 in; 8.89 cm
overall in case: 6 13/16 in x 3 1/4 in x 1 5/8 in; 17.30375 cm x 8.255 cm x 4.1275 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
LaVerne Watkins
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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