Item: W & L E Gurley Surveyors Vernier Compass W
Sold For: $900.00
Date: May 03, 2012
Description and Image By: surveystick903
Up for bid is an antique “w & l e gurley brass surveyor’s vernier compass” w/ orig. Wood box, and 11 chaining stakes
It is 15-1/2″ long and has a 6″ needle the face is 6-7/8″ across and made between 1852 and 1876 It is had inscribed on the face of the compass with “w & l e gurley” at the top and “troy, n.y.” at the bottom
All parts are original. The glass is clear and in perfect condition. Still has protective brass cover for the glass, and both sight vains. Also included are the 11 homemade wood chaining stakes. The dovetailed wood box is in good condition and the leather strap is still intact and strong. The metal latches on the box are partially missing.
The box has the holder for the telescopic site but it is not there and is unknown if it ever had one. The only missing part is the jacob staff connector that would be attached to the top of the staff.
Information from the smithsonian national museum of american history behring center website reads as follows and photos date the compass to being made between 1852 and 1876: Inscriptions: ”w. & l. E. Gurley troy, n.y.”
Dimensions surveyor’s vernier compass: length 15.5 inches; needle 6 inches
Discussion: since the signature-with its v-shaped trenches and lines of varying weight-was clearly engraved by hand, the compass was made between 1852 when w. & l. E. Gurley began in business, and before the middle of 1876 when their new engraving machine was up and running. The variation arc on the south arm extends 20 degrees either way; the vernier is moved by a tangent screw, also on the south arm, and reads to 2 minutes. There are two level vials on the north arm. The side of one vertical sight is graduated to half degrees, for determining angles of elevation or depression. In 1871, a compass of this size and design cost $50.
Ref: w. & l. E. Gurley, a manual of the principal instruments used in american engineering and surveying (troy, n.y., 1871), pp. 23-27.