Manthey on Historical Surveying

I have been interested in surveying for a long time. Sometime in the year 2000, I started participating in 18th century reenactments of the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. As a common junction between these two interests, I have been doing research on historical survey techniques and tools. I am gradually making and acquiring the necessary equipment to conduct surveys using period or close-to-period gear.

Unless otherwise noted, content is copyright by David Manthey.

A Treatise of Mathematical Instruments by John Robertson

This is book about all the small tools required in drafting and surveying, written in 1775. It gives complete details on the sector and gunner's calipers, both of which are the period equivalent of pocket calculators.

Make a Gunter's Chain

This is a detailed set of instructions on how I made a surveying chain.

Internet Links and Reading List

References I have found useful in understanding historical instruments, links to manufacturers of historical surveying equipment, and a list of some books related to 18th century surveying that are in print.

The Practical Surveyor by Samuel Wyld

This is a guide and instruction book that was written in 1725. I have arranged to have the book reprinted. It is a splendid guide of how surveys were performed in the field.

First Survey

This is description of the first field trial of the surveying equipment. It is a survey near the visitors' center of the Saratoga Battlefield National Park, and includes a copy of the map I protracted.

Make Chaining Pins

This is a detailed set of instructions on how I made a set of chaining pins (also called surveying arrows or drop arrows) and quivers to hold them.

Staves, Offset Staff, and Cross

Here is a brief description and some photographs of an offset staff, station staves, and a surveyor's cross. The offset staff is used to measure distances up to 10 links. The station staves are used to temporarily mark locations. The cross is used to find a right angle.

Surveying Instruments

A collection of photographs of old surveying instruments with slight details on each item.

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