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Box sextant by W F Stanley in oxidised brass with silver scale and vernier, probably early 20th century, in excellent working order
4” diameter prismatic surveying compass signed on the lid (not shown) F B & S (1932) Ltd with a broad arrow and B 2163. Aluminium compass ring divided to 30 minutes. Case stamped GBO over 1 in a circle. There is a tripod socket under the base. Probably mid-20th century. Possibly made by Francis Barker & Son (1932) Ltd., as the lid is aluminium and the rest is brass so the lid may have been changed.
2.5” diameter compass card, Hutchinson’s improved prismatic compass probably dating from the 19th century. Another surveying compass. These were made by a number of makers from about 1860 to the mid-20th century.
A combined Hutchinson’s Improved prismatic compass and Watkin’s patent clinometer.
The prismatic compass is similar to the one above but is signed around the centre of the compass card J Hicks 8, 9 & 10 Hatton Garden London. Underneath is the clinometer signed J Hicks maker 8 Hatton Garden London. It is also marked Watkin’s Clinometer patent 217 and No. 7160. The patent was granted in 1884. This example probably dates from the end of the 19th century. This type of clinometer has an internal pendulum and scale which rotate under gravity. When a feature is sighted through the eye hole in the side of the case the angle of inclination or depression can be seen alongside in the reflection from a mirror.

The leather sling case is well worn and missing the sides of the cover, two loops, and the shoulder strap.
Lawrence & Mayo combined prismatic compass and clinometer dating from ca. 1890. Patent No. 1926. Serial No. 4981. The compass is of the Hutchinson’s type. W F Stanley calls this Barker’s Combined Prismatic Compass and Clinometer. When used as a clinometer the weighted clinometer card is released by pulling the knob at the top. Held vertically it is sighted in the same way as when used as a compass and the clinometer card read through the prism, which can be raised to suit. It can also be used to measure the slope of a surface by direct reading through the lower glass. There is a tripod or staff screw under the base plate for when it is used as a compass.
Service pattern clinometer signed Aston & Mander Ld London 2108 with leather sling case stamped ↑ Short & Mason 1903 1745, made in 1903. The mechanism is the same as that of the Watkin’s patent clinometer.
Siemens Bros & Co, London signed service pattern clinometer no. 316, marked with the broad arrow, IV, and dated 1898. Engraved on the back A.D.S. Arbuthnot. Missing the glass from the circular window.
Verner’s pattern Mk VI prismatic compass by Short & Mason ca.1910-14.
Hunter cased dry card military compass with Dennison dial signed Terrasse W Co  VI 86703  1918 and marked with the broad arrow.
Mk IX dry card prismatic compass (Verner’s pattern) signed J W Handley Melb. Australia 1941. No. 26249. Stamped with the broad arrow flanked by DD for the Australian Defence Department, and also with 132 under another broad arrow. The card is mother of pearl, the case is brass and it has luminous radium compound markings (radio active!). The large screw locks the rotating bezel. The card is clamped when the lid is closed. There is a small button to damp card rotation for reading. The prism can be moved up and down to focus
Mk III liquid filled prismatic compass signed ‘ckc/C S4375 Mk III’ made by the Canadian Kodak Co under license from Francis Barker (1932) Ltd. World War II vintage. It has possibly been reconditioned and repainted professionally at some time. Mother of pearl compass card. Luminous radium paint markings (orange colour). In excellent working order.
Compass Magnetic Marching Mark 1, B9857, made by the Gramophone Company, London, dating from WWII. The case is Bakelite.
Brunton Pocket Transit (combined compass and clinometer) by E R Watts & Son. The compass and clinometer are in good working order but the aluminium case has lost much of its paint and the lid is missing the mirror with its sight line, I have partially restored it since this photo was taken.
Brunton pocket transit by Kataoka, Japan, late 20th century. The main body material is aluminium. It can be used as surveying compass and a clinometer in a variety of ways. Typically used by geologists and for mine survey. This is a late example of the instrument that was invented by D W Brunton and patented in the USA in 1894. With an accessory that clamped to the side of the instrument it could be mounted on a tripod or staff.
Six inch Government Pattern Trough Compass by Cooke, Troughton & Simms for use on a plane table. Probably dates from the second quarter of the twentieth century.
Small mahogany cased compass, 31 mm diameter, dating from ca. 1900
Mahogany cased compass, made in France, it has ‘O’ for ‘Ouest’, French for West. Probably late 19th century. The case is approximately 3 inches square. The printed dial is graduated every two degrees and numbered every twenty.
Hilger & Watts vernier theodolite type ST2, serial number 190802 dating. I think, from 1966. The fitted mahogany box still contains the plummet, brush, three spanners, and a spare diaphragm. The olive green enamel is unmarked but there is some tarnishing of the silver scales and verniers, and two of the white plastic reflectors for throwing light onto the verniers were broken, which I have since replaced. The upper horizontal plate motion is too stiff but otherwise it appears to be in excellent working order.
12” dumpy level signed J B Dancer Optician Manchester. John Benjamin Dancer (1812-1887) was working from 1835 until 1878 and it is likely that this level dates from near the end of that period. It has a trade label for J Halden in the lid of the box who may just possibly have sold it new but more likely sold it secondhand or repaired it at some point as Joseph Halden did not start a business on his own account until 1880 after a short (1878-1880) partnership with Alexander George Thornton. The level is mainly oxidised brass or bronze and is in good working order. Typical of levels of this period the parallel plates with their four levelling screws can be detached from the rest of the instrument. The telescope has rack & pinion focusing and an extendable ray shade.
Hilger & Watts No 1 Microptic theodolite serial no 86087, probably dating from 1954. It is complete with fitted steel case and stand and has a plummet in the case and a ray shade. The elevation and azimuth circles are glass and finely engraved. The verniers for both are viewed through the eyepiece on the left hand side of the instrument and are illuminated by a mirror that folds out just below the signature. An accessory that I do not have was a battery powered lamp that could be fitted in place of the mirror to illuminate the optical path. The instrument is in good working order. The stand can also be used with my Hilger & Watts vernier theodolite shown above. The Microptic has the same 20 second resolution as that instrument but is more compact
Eleven inch drainage level, ca. 1790-1820. It is unsigned and it appears that a trade label has at some time been lost from inside the lid - possibly when it was some time later for sale second-hand for £3.10s. The case is mahogany and has hand dovetail joints. The No. 163 in the lid may well be the original maker's number.

The two screws in the lower limb were probably for the attachment of a compass. It has a rather unsightly solder repair where the original fixing screw{s} has been lost or the thread damaged that I shall try and clean up in due course.
However the level tube is still intact, the eyepiece and objective are in good condition and focus correctly and the cross hairs are still in position although the horizontal one is displaced at one end. The link hinges are a little sloppy
from 200 years wear.
E R Watts & Son Standard 10” dumpy level No. 20163 dating from ca.1941, agents J Halden & Co, Manchester & London. The level is mounted on a tribrach, in the base of which is a small circular spirit level for rough adjustment. The main (very sensitive) level is sighted through the mirror and there is also a cross level. The telescope is of the internal focusing type, the eyepiece separately focusing on the diaphragm. There is a clamp and slow motion (the clamp screw knob had sheared off and I have repaired it since the photos were taken). It has a fitted mahogany case.
A H Hall & Bros 10” precision tilting level no 53649 supplied by Hall Harding & Co, Westminster, London. The level is mounted on a tribrach above which there is an azimuth scale. It is fitted with a clamp and slow motion although the clamp screw was missing and a replacement has now been made. One turn of micrometer screw for tilting the level is equivalent to a 1/100 slope and the barrel is graduated to 1/5000.  The telescope is of the internal focusing type, the eyepiece separately focusing on the diaphragm. There is a circular bubble level for setting up as well as the sensitive level that is sighted through the mirror. Using the tilting function to take two readings on the stave, the distance can be calculated.
E R Watts & Son Quickset Level serial no 103762. It has a graduated azimuth circle and extending ray shade. It has a fitted leather case with the retailers plaque for Lawes Rabjohns and a 1959 dated repair/adjustment label inside for J Halden & Co. It is missing the quickset base part, presumably left screwed to the stand. It dates from about 1957 and by that time the firm was actually Hilger & Watts.
Telescopic alidade made in 1941 by Hall Bros, Purley Way, Croydon, England, serial number 41633. The instrument is marked with the Briitish Government “crow’s foot” and was probably supplied to the army. It would have been used on a plane table for mapping and could also be used for determining heights of features and determining distances as the eyepiece has stadia. It has a fitted wood case. The telescope is internal focusing. There are a clamp and slow motion for fine vertical adjustment, a magnifier for reading the vernier, and a screw for cross levelling. It is combined with a parallel rule for plotting the sight line.
Abney level made by W F Stanley, in the 2nd quarter of the 20th century. It has a leather sling case.
Elliott Bros, London Abney level no 1796, registered no 5205, It has a Morocco covered card case. The design, by Capt. Abney, was registered in 1884  and this level is an early example , probably dating from the end of the 19th century. Behind the top bar is a level tube which is rotated by the milled hand wheel. In use the object of which the height is to be determined is sighted through the instrument and the bubble tube is rotated until the bubble, viewed in a mirror in the sighting tube, is brought to the same position as the top of the sighted object.
This 19th century Abney level is unsigned. It has a magnifier and the angle scales are divided to + 90 degrees whilst the Elliott one is only divided to + 60 degrees.. Unlike my other Abneys the mirror is in its early position across the top half of the tube rather than at one side.  The morocco covered, silk & velvet lined case is unusual for an instrument intended to be used in the field.
RSA Mk IV Abney level B5098. A service pattern Abney level made for the British military by R S Aldridge, London. The vernier is divided to 10 minutes and it is adjusted by the thumb wheel at the top. It has a two draw eyepiece, which extends the instrument to 7 inches overall length The mirror is silver. It has degree and gradient scales.
Mk 5 Abney level by H H S, B837 dating from 1944. It has a leather case stamped with the broad arrow and PIC 1944 Mk V 33. It has an extending sighting tube. The outer knurled sector is used for coarse adjustment and the inner knurled wheel for fine adjustment. It is missing its magnifier for reading the vernier. The scales are similar to those of the Mk IV above.
A G Thornton 5 inch Abney level with compass, probably dating from the early 20th century.
Clinometer rule signed Herbert & Co Bombay. It has bubble levels in both arms and a magnetic compass as well as fold out sights. On the compass side there is a table of lengths in inches  for a one inch rise against degrees. On the reverse is a table of rise in inches per yard against degrees, and a scale of inches x tenths. On the bottom edge is a scale of inches x eighths. The hinge arc is graduated in degrees and there is an adjacent gradient scale. The rule is made of boxwood and brass and has a leather case. Overall length folded = 6 in.
India pattern clinometer made by UIC for the British Government (probably the War Department). It was used to measure the elevation or declination of buildings and topographical features, mounted on a plane table and levelled using the screw behind the back sight. The aperture in the foresight can be raised or lowered with the thumb wheel  until the cross wire coincides with the top of the feature being measured. There are a degree scale (to the left) and a tangent scale (to the right) on the front sight which enable the height to be calculated or found from tables if the horizontal distance is known.
This one probably dates from the 1950s. The case is marked MkVI  F.Ltd and numbered 115 under the broad arrow. The instrument is stamped with the UIC trade mark, B 8300 (probably a catalogue number) and the broad arrow. This type of clinometer was originally designed for the survey of India in the 19th century, hence its name.
De Lisle reflecting clinometer.  In use it is held at arms length using the thumb loop so that it can pivot freely. The weight on the swinging arm is moved to the end of the arm and the arm is unclamped. The mirror has to be rotated through a right angle for use, in one direction for looking up slope and in the other for down slope. The arm will show the amount of inclination when the reflection of the centre of the pupil of the eye coincides with the object being observed. It was made by Palmer for the British government and has a leather sling case marked F Ltd with the broad arrow.

It can be used as both a clinometer and as a reflecting level, in which case the arm is clamped horizontal.
W F Stanley apomecometer dating from ca. 1900. It has a leather case. Used to determine the height of buildings and trees.
A brass optical square by an unknown maker. It has a leather case with a belt loop, probably dating from the 1930s. It may have been black finished originally.

These optical squares were constructed like the apomecometer above but with the mirrors at an angle of 45 degrees to each other rather than 22.5 degrees. There was also a double version of the mirror type, to sight at 90 degrees left and right simultaneously.

Used to ensure offsets were measured at right angles when chaining.
E R Watts & Son Ltd, London double optical square no. 33179. Dating from ca.1943, this is the prismatic type, in this case with two prisms, one above the other, to sight at 90 degrees left and right simultaneously.

It has a black, cloth covered, card case.

Used to ensure offsets were measured at right angles when chaining.
The surveyor’s cross was another instrument used for laying off offsets at right angles. In this case sightings are taken through the narrow slits and via the fine line opposite. This particular instrument has a compass in the top ( for which there is a brass cover, not shown) and is octagonal in section suggesting that it was made in France (English ones were more likely to be round and of larger cross section). The letter “O” for “Ouest” confirms it as French. It has a socket underneath for mounting on a staff. It has a mahogany box.
A W F Stanley eight-inch semicircumferentor made of brass and black-lacquered brass. It is also equipped with a level tube that can be screwed under the base beam as shown in the second picture. With this fitted and the arc held in the vertical plane rather than horizontal it can be used as a clinometer. The semi-circle is graduated to half a degree and the vernier reads to one minute of arc. For land surveying it is a simple alternative to a theodolite, though less accurate, for small scale surveys. The shorter alidade can be rotated relative to the larger, fixed alidade for measuring angles between objects and the baseline.
This clinometer is signed Short & Mason London and probably dates from about 1900. The arc is similar to that on an Abney level but somewhat larger. The two screw holes in the base suggest it was meant to be screwed to another piece of equipment and I have seen one screwed to a wooden beam. It has a fitted mahogany box.
12” boxwood and brass folding alidade by J H Steward Ltd, 457 Strand, London. Originally the property of Bedford College, London, Geographical Department, the stamp of which is impressed in both the alidade and its leather case.

The edge scales are yards 6” to the mile and 2” to the mile.

It probably dates from the first quarter of the 20th century.
Clinometer Field Mark III ↑ by J Pitkin & Co No 237 dated 1905. These were used by the military for measuring/setting the elevation of gun barrels prior to the introduction of specialist sight clinometers. The arc is graduated in degrees and the level moves on a finely curved cross member giving a reading to one minute of arc. The end of the cross member is sprung so that it can be disengaged from the rack inside the arc for moving. In America these are known as gunner’s quadrants. Prior to the use of the field clinometer a Watkin Clinometer was used for measuring/setting the quadrant elevation.
Brooks, Ludgate St, London clinometer/slope level dating from 1849-59. It can be used to find the angle of slope of a surface, such as a road, and can also be used, if mounted on a horizontal surface such as a plane table, as a sighting clinometer to measure the angle of elevation to a feature and hence determine its height relative to the sighting station.
Plane table and stand. The plane table measures 24” x 18” and is to the Royal Engineer’s pattern. The underside shows the aluminium corners, battens and race. The carrying bag is canvas with leather corners. Mid-20th century.
A G Thornton pocket level, ca.1900. It has a black card case. In use the reflection of the bubble in a mirror has to be aligned with cross hairs.
A G Thornton large size (9” LOA) suspension level. It was normally used in conjunction with a special cord that Thornton sold in a range of lengths and had a variety of uses in building , establishing levels and engineering. It could also be used as a precision level resting on its feet
John Rabone & Sons, Birmingham, England no.4351 100ft steel surveyor’s tape in a metal case, early to mid-20th century.

I have other surveying tapes that are cloth and leather cased by Rabone, by Chesterman and by Dean Bedington.
Back to top.
Cowley automatic level, serial no 26377, probably made by Hilger & Watts ca.1960. It has a black leather sling case & instructions.

It would originally have been supplied with a special tripod, staff, and special target. Its main use would have been for laying out ground works on building sites.
The special tripod has a vertical spike on top that is inserted through a hole in the base if the instrument. It both holds the unit in place and
releases the mirrors that are the main feature of the instruments mechanism. Looking down through the hole in the top the staff and target are located centrally in the field of view. The target will appear with one half displaced vertically from the other in the mirrors. The assistant then moves the target up or down the staff until the two images of the target coincide at which point the height can be read off the staff. By rotating it around the tripod without moving the tripod several measurements at different staff positions can be made.
Combined compass and clinometer signed “Charles Chevalier Ingenieur Palais Royal 158 Paris”. Charles Chevalier died in 1859 and was succeeded by his son, Arthur.
Inside are rotating compass and clinometer dials that are viewed through the lens below the back sight and read with the instrument horizontal or on its side respectively, the feature of interest being lined up through the folding sights. Ca.1850.
The instrument was proposed in 1833 by Capitaine Burnier, a French artillery captain. It is described in Chevalier’s catalogue of around 1850 as “Boussole du Capitaine Burnier”. They were also made by other French makers until about 1930. It has a threaded socket in the base for a staff mount.
E R Watts & Son 8” Quickset level serial no 9335 dating from about 1924. J Halden & Co Agents is also stamped into the support for the telescope. It has a fitted leather case and instruction leaflet. Whilst the much later one above is internal screw focusing, this has the older form of rack and pinion focusing. The eye piece is rotated to focus on the cross hairs (that are missing from this level).
Cooke’s Reversible Level (signed on one side of the outer tube), signed on the other side T Cooke & Sons Ld London & York. It has a fitted wood case and dates from the early 20th century. W F Stanley describes it in his book on surveying instruments. By removing the thumb screw just under the telescope at the eye end and removing the ray shade, the telescope can be withdrawn from the outer tube and inserted from the other end. It can also be rotated about its own axis. It is intended to be used in the same way as a wye level. It also ha a prismatic surveying compass built into the telescope support. The telescope sight line can be adjusted by a pair of capstan nuts and a similar arrangement is used to bring the bubble level into collimation with the telescope. Although clearly much used it is still in good working order. 15” telescope. Serial No 15553.
66 feet land chain (Gunter chain) consisting of 100 links, each tenth identified by a brass tag. This is a very basic chain made of 9 WG iron wire except for the brass handles and tags. The handles simply swivel on the wire and there are three other wire swivels at 25, 50 and 75 links respectively to prevent kinking. There is no indication of the maker. Simple iron chains were significantly cheaper than those made of hardened and tempered steel wire.
Gardner & Co drainage level, serial no 197 (on the reverse of the scale arm). Signed Gardner & Co, 21 Buchanan St., Glasgow Registered No 2602 December 28th 1850. This instrument dates from ca.1859. The firm moved to 53 Buchanan St the following year. The telescope is focused by withdrawing the eyepiece.
Elliott Bros, Strand 3” diameter prismatic surveying compass. It has a tripod screw under the base. Closing the forward sight lifts the card off its pivot.Ca. 1860s/1870s. Missing glass since replaced and bezel refitted correct way round (upside down in photo!)
W S Darley & Co, Chicago, USA dipping needle (dip compass), typically used by geologists and in mines to locate metallic ores. In use it is suspended vertically in the magnetic meridian plane, holding it by the big, brass loop. The magnetic meridian can first be found by using it horizontally when it functions as an ordinary magnetic compass. The dial ring is graduated on both sides. Invented in the USA in 1866.
Reid & Young, Glasgow anemometer or airflow meter used to measure the airflow in mines, corridors, chimneys and ducts of all sorts. On the right is a ducted fan that is placed across the direction of flow. On the left edge of the instrument a lever is used to start and stop the counting mechanism by engaging or disengaging it from the fan. It is first zeroed using three keys that are accessed through holes in the base plate. It is the started and timed for one minute at which point it is stopped again. The velocity can then be read directly in feet per minute. Serial no. 11161. Reid & Young were in business from 1913 to 1964.
This 18” ‘Y’ level is stamped on the top of main limb on one side “Made by Y & S Dept Keuffel & Esser New York” and on the other “Young & Sons trade mark 74619” made in 1941. Missing ray shade, box and other accessories.

Young & Sons of Philadelphia, PA was a long established (over 100 years) company manufacturing surveying instruments, incorporated by Alfred C Young March 17th 1917. He died in May 1918 and the firm was purchased by K&E. Young & Sons Inc was dissolved Dec 20 1921 and in 1922 K&E moved the business to Hoboken, NJ. A special Y&S department was set up to manufacture simple, but substantial and accurate, instruments for sale at a lower price than their best range. A few instruments in this range were still being sold by K&E in the 1940s. This instrument has internal focusing.
3 1/2” prismatic surveying compass by an unknown British maker. It is missing the filters that attach to the prism housing.
Troye’s Prismatic Theodolite Makers E T Newton & Son Camborne and its leather case (missing sling). This appears to be based on the prismatic compass clinometer with typical aluminium compass ring dial and metal clinometer card. However it differs in two ways and is intended to be used on a tripod for which there is a screw thread in the base. Once mounted and oriented with the compass a screw behind the folding foresight is released and then the sight and prism, mounted on the outer ring can be rotated about the compass. The aluminium azimuth ring is mounted on three studs in the centre of the fixed compass body so that angles to various features can be read with the prism as the sights are rotated.
Pocket compass signed Newton & Co 3 Fleet St London. The hunter case is missing its lid. Late 19th century.
“Murray’s Patent Angle Finder Sole Makers W & J George Ltd London & B’ham England”
Site Square marked Made in England. It has a black leather sling case. Used for laying out right angles on building sites, etc. Probably made by Rank Precision/Hilger & Watts
J Halden & Co optical square of the mirror type. It has a fitted, round, leather covered and blue velvet lined case. Probably ca.1900.

French mahogany cased compass dating from the 1920s based on the indicated magnetic variation. It has the letters for the French cardinal points where “O” is for “Ouest” (West). A pin in the bottom left-hand corner locks the pointer the lid is closed. The compass is unusual because rotating the milled bezel rotates the dial relative to the fixed arrow pointer so it can be used as a marching compass.

Elliott Bros, 449 Strand, London pocket altazimuth. The instrument combines a compass and a clinometer on opposite sides. It has a sighting telescope that has a detachable, dark glazed, shade. Both dials can be read through the telescope eyepiece as well as through the side glasses.

Double optical square dating from ca.1960. This is the prismatic type, in this case with two prisms, one above the other, to sight at 90 degrees left and right simultaneously. Made in England, same as the Stanley A1531. Leather zip fastening case and cord for hanging round the neck.

Adjustable Cross Staff by “La Filotecnica” Ing A Salmoiraghi, Milano. Early/mid 20th century. There is a compass in the top.

W Ottway & Co Rules Sighting 24” No A339 1924. This combined alidade and parallel rule was intended for use on a plane table by an army surveyor. The adjusting key shown right is housed in the small pocket on the face of the case. The rule is made of aluminium. The wooden case is lined with green felt.

The L S Starrett Co Athol Mass. USA 50ft/15m metal tape measure in a leather case. No 5108. Imperial measures one side,metric on the other.

Heath Hezzanith Rapid Reader Survey Sextant made by W F Stanley at New Eltham (Stanley took over Heath in 1926). The NPL certificate is dated 1954 (when it was new) and the W F Stanley one is dated 1983. The black cylindrical tin holds the spare mirrors. The four filters fit over the telescope eyepiece. The small brass item with knurled handle is for locking the fine adjustment of the horizon mirror I think.

Lufkin Rule Co, Saginaw, Michigan, USA 100ft steel surveying tape, mid-20th century, in a steel frame with hardwood (rosewood?) Handle. The “Nubian” finish tape is 3/8in wide and 0.015in thick.

MDS Ltd “improved” optical square no.1534. Mid 20th century. At 2¾” diameter it is larger and heavier than the other optical squares in my collection. There is a bubble level inside the right angle aperture that can be seen with the reflected object. The mirrors are in poor condition. MDS were founded in 1920 as the Miscellaneous Disposals Syndicate Ltd, dealing in government surplus items. Ca. 1940 they were renamed the  Manufacturers & Distributors Syndicate Ltd. Their address was 41 St James Gardens, Holland  Park, London W11 and they had a factory at Empire Works, London Road, Horley.

Gravatt pattern (dumpy) level by William Elliott, 268 High Holborn London dating from 1835-49. The rack & pinion focusing telescope is in good working order but lacking cross hairs and cover plate for objective lens. The compass is also in good working order although the glass is cracked. The box it came with is not the original but probably from a late 19th century dumpy as it is not a good fit and lacks any provision for the detachable eyepiece or mirror.