Surveying Links and Reading List

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Manufacturers of Historical Surveying Equipment

Ames Instrument CompanyThis is the one place I have seen that still manufacturers chains. They also make reproduction compasses. All of the equipment looks top-notch, though I have not seen it in person.

Online Museums

Antique Scientific InstrumentsA wide variety of instruments, including some surveyor's crosses.
Epact This is a collection of very early instruments located in Oxford, England.
The Geometry of WarThis has a variety of mathematical tools used in engineering, gunnery, and fortification. It has the best picture of a Nonius Scale that I have found (see Catalog No. 64.
Museo Della SpecolaThis museum is focused on astonomy. Their collection includes works by the famous Jonathan Sisson and also quite a few drafting tools.
National Museum of American HistoryLots of compasses and other instruments.
Uze's The Compleat SurveyorThis site has a variety of instruments on display, a very extensive bibliography of historic surveying books, and many other items of interest.
The Ordinance SurveyThis site includes a theodolite by Sisson and an interesting old way-wiser.


Atlas Billiard Supplies This is the best source of Micarta (imitation ivory) that I have found. They sell it in sheets of different thicknesses.

Reading List

This is a list of books that are related to 18th century surveying that are currently in print. There are probably several more; if you know of them, please email me.
A Treatise of Mathematical Instruments
John Robertson
A reprint of a book from 1775, with notes by myself. This details all the small instruments needed for surveying and engineering, with sample problems and lengthy technical asides. It completely covers how to use a sector (the pocket calculator of the time).
The Practical Surveyor
Samuel Wyld
A reprint of a book from 1725, with notes by myself. This is the most hands-on book I have encountered (which is why I felt it was worth reprinting).
Measuring America
Andro Linklater
This is a modern popular history about the standardization of weights and measures in America. It is much too keen on the System International for my tastes, but it was a pleasant read.
Early American Scientific Instruments and Their Makers
Silvio A. Bedini
This a nice summary of different compasses and other tools produced by Americans, mainly in the 18th century. Many of these tools are still in existance, and the book is a good way of learning where one can go and look at them. Bedini has also written a great many other books involving the history of surveying; I may list them eventually.
The Years of the Life of Samuel Lane
Jerald E. Brown
This is primarily about a man from New Hampshire who lived from 1712-1806. He does some surveying, and some of his instruments are still extent.
The Compleat Surveyor
William Leybourn
Another historical reprint. I haven't seen the reprint (yet), though I have read a microfilm copy of the original. This is one of the seminal works on surveying. The reprint is the work of Walter Robillard.
John Love
I have a reprint of the eighth edition from 1768. The first edition was published in 1688. This is more of a text book.
The Construction and Principal Uses of Mathematical Instruments
Edmund Stone
This is a reprint of a 1758 book that details a great many technical tools. It has very brief descriptions of each. It was originally translated from a French work, and some of the information was possibly a few decades out of date at the time it was first published. Still, it is very interesting. The book is published by the Astrgal Press, which also has several books on the history of slide rules.

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