Late 19th century Wye level with compass, by Troughton & Simms, London
The "Y" level, also known in British parlance as a "Wye" level, is a surveying instrument used for determining elevations. It combines a large spirit level mounted in parallel to a removable
Troughton &Simms was formed when Edward Troughton took William Simms as a partner in 1826. The firm continued in severalcombinations of the two families until 1922, when they merged with T. Cooke and Sons Ltd. of York and renamed the company Cooke, Troughton & Simms. This level was probably made in the late 19th century. It is in full working order, all optics are intact and original, and the lacquer coating has been renewed.
15" long fully extended
A fine lacquered brass binocular microscope by Elliott Brothers,
London, late 19th century
The V shaped sighting tube with interocular separation by rack and pinion uses coarse and fine focus adjustments above a stage with sliding slide mount and aperture adjustable oculus. One-quarter inch and one inch objective lenses and a body prism are included, along with two sets of ocular lenses.
The stage, foot, and slide mount are decorated with engine-turning. Equipment includes the bullseye condensor, tweezers, etc. The drawer is filled with slides, mostly mineral and insect samples. The instrument is in full working order, with the original fitted mahogany box, with the lock working.
The firm of Elliott Brothers produced a wide range of instruments over many years. The founder, William Elliott, began practice in about 1795 and was joined by his sons Frederick and Charles in the 1840s. They absorbed Watkins and Hill in 1857 and advertised as Opticians to the Admiralty. Instruments signed "Elliott Brothers", as this one is, are generally 1850 and later. Elliott Brothers was still in existence in the mid-20th century.
The octant is an instrument used by navigators, at sea or on land, that uses a small mirror to bring two images together--those of the sun and the horizon, for instance--to determine latitude by observing the altitude of celestial bodies. It has a fixed arc of 45°, one-eighth of a circle, mated with a scale and reflecting system that measures angles of 90° or more. John Hadley (1682-1744) described an instrument of this sort to the Royal Society of London in 1731 and obtained a British patent in 1734. Accordingly, octants are sometimes known as Hadley quadrants.
This vernier octant with brass arm is absolutely complete, in very good original condition, and in full working order. The frame is solid ebony and the scales are engraved ivory. The glass elements are all intact and original. While the instrument itself is unsigned, the box bears the label of Henry Hughes, 59 Fenchurch Street, London.
Henry Hughes was a second generation instrument maker of repute who began working under his own name about 1830 and moved to the Fenchurch Street address in Tower Hill about 1835. The company is still in existence today. The label denotes Hughes as a maker of "Optical, Nautical, and Mathematical" Instruments. When the frame was dismantled for cleaning, a paper label for the firm of James Gilkerson & Co., 8 Postern Row, Tower Hill was found being used as a spacer under the pivot for the arm. This could actually be the original maker of the instrument itself, Hughes acting as the seller, or from a later repair. The two addresses were within a very few hundred yards of one another; Postern Row no longer exists.
This is a portable universal sundial that can be used at most inhabited latitudes north or south of the equator. The base incorporates two level bubbles and a finely-defined compass to locate the magnetic poles. The sundial assembly itself is then rotated upward to the difference in degrees (as noted on the hinged arc at East) between the 60 degree angle of the gnomon and the user's latitude, and the time of day is read on the silvered hour circle. Conversely, one's latitude can be determined by checking the difference between a watch and the shadow thrown by the angle of the gnomon. These were much used by travelers in all parts of the world, and some are known as early as the late 17th century.
This particular dial was made in London at the end of the 18th or beginning of the 19th century. The hour circle is silvered and hinged to the dial plate at North. A brass pivot attached to the hour circle supports a folding, shaped brass 60 degree gnomon. The latitude arc, hinged at East on the dial plate, is divided from 0 to 60 degrees, indicating that the instrument was largely intended for use between the equator and the far north of the British isles. The compass is of silvered brass with a highly decorated eight-point rose, and has an arm to lift and lock the needle against the glass. There are two brass bubble levels set into it. Many of these dials were supplied with wood carrying boxes, but the original does not survive. A wood display base has been made for it instead.
The dial is signed simply Bradford, 136 Minories, London. This is either John or Isaac Bradford, working at that address in London between 1795 and 1822.
4.5 inches diameter dial
Boxed American surveyor's compass by James Foster, Jr., Cincinnati, Ohio.
This very original vernier compass was made when Foster (1814-1873) occupied premises at Fifth and Race Streets in Cincinnati, between 1853 and his death. It is in the original poplar box, which also bears Foster's trade label. It is original overall, with the brass cover to protect the glass, and lacking the jacob's staff mount; a wood stand has been made to display it.
Foster's instruments are documented in the collections of the Oregon State Logging Museum and The Ohio State Museum in Columbus.
This is a most interesting
sundial, utilizing a central gnomon of 50 degrees 51 minutes
north for London, and four corresponding smaller gnomons
for a "World Time" display in the corners. The
corner dials are engraved with New York, Morning (five
hours earlier), Alexandria, Egypt,
The central gnomon has an old repair, and one of the auxiliary gnomons is a replacement. The slate panel is undamaged, and minimally eroded. It is nearly all legible with a dusting of chalk. We don't recommend an outdoor installation as the slate has its original surface and is not sealed against acid rain or freezing.
At the top (North) of the dial is a Latin inscription that is too worn to read clearly, probably having to do with time and death.
The dial is signed Richard Melvin, maker to the Crystal Palace London. He signed and was known by a number of versions of his name. Ricardus Melville and Richard Melvin are recorded for example. There are others but the unique design suggests a single maker. Richard Melville began his career in Ulster from 1832 to 1842. By 1845 he was working in Glasgow and continued there until 1851. In 1846 he was based at 160 Saltmarket Street. Two dials made in Glasgow, both dated 1848, are, respectively in the Dunblane Museum and the Dollar Museum. A number of sundials are held by museums, notably the National Museum of Scotland and Armagh Museum, Ireland. In 1856 he was in Liverpool, in 1858 in the Crystal Palace area, London and by 1864 he was working in Dublin. His address there in 1871 was 9 Lower Wellington Street. He is not known as making any other instruments. We are grateful to the British Sundial Society for the biographical information.
Surveyors today use a waywiser (also known as an odometer or a perambulator) to measure linear distances on the ground. This elegant English example in mahogany dates from the early 19th century, and the dial measures in yards (the longer of the two hands), poles (an antiquated term interchangeable with rods, 16.5 feet, 320 poles per mile), furlongs (220 yards), and miles. The iron-rimmed wheel is 31.5 inches in diameter, covering 99 inches with each revolution, or one pole in each two turns, and can be removed for transporting the instrument. The engraved, silvered dial and steel hands are connected to a clock-like movement, which in turn is driven by an iron shaft running up the inside of one of the wheel supports. The instrument is in good working order, and the display stand is later.
The dial is signed by Robert Bate (1782-1847) of London, MIM and OIM, a prolific maker of instruments in the first half of the 19th century. His workshops produced globes, sundials, drafting tools, barometers, and a wide range of instruments for the Board of Excise and Customs and the Admiralty. He took two of his sons into business with him, renaming the firm Bate and Son sometime before 1840.
This is a very pretty 19th century brass telescope, all complete, original, and in working order.The original fitted mahogany storage box is only 21" long.The telescope includes a Barlow extension for terrestrial viewing, and two eyepieces of differing field widths. Barrel diameter is 2.25 inches at the objective lens, and the overall length with the Barlow extension fitted is 26 inches. Height is 15 inches.
Thomas Harris, Optical Instrument Maker, worked from about 1780 to the early 19th century, and in 1806 the firm was renamed Thomas Harris & Son. They were Opticians to the Royal Family for much of the 19th century. Harris & Son also made very fine barometers and other scientific instruments. Telescopes are difficult to date in a narrow range, but the style of engraving in the signature indicates that this one probably was made around 1840 to the mid-century.
This is a scale in a very nice original condition, still retaining its original set of cup weights. The steel arm, stand, and pans dismantle for carrying in the drawer of the mahogany box, and there is a compartment in the drawer for the weights. Such scales were made for commercial use, in everything from selling spices to pigments for paint. The nine brass weights are in Troy ounces, from 30 down to 1/5th.
No maker's name is shown. It is likely to have been made by Avery of Birmingham or a similar firm in the 19th century.
deep, 4.25" high (box),
19th Century Irish brass sundial by Yeates & Son, Dublin
This is a fine horological instrument as well as an attractive garden sundial. It is engraved with a full month-by-month equation of time table around the circumference, in addition to the hours of the day. The gnomon is set at latitude 54° 2' (54 degrees, 2 minutes), considerably north of Dublin where the dial was made.
From the center, the bands of decoration & information
The 12 inch diameter dial plate is weathered but with every feature still very distinct, and no damage. The dial is clearly signed Made by Yeates & Son, Dublin. Samuel Yeates and Son made and signed instruments of all kinds in Dublin with this name from 1832, although Samuel himself died in 1839. The firm practiced under the same name until about WWI.
Late 19th Century English surveyor's or architect's
This protractor is 6 1/8 inches in diameter, nickel-plated brass, and in immaculate condition. It is in its original mahogany velvet-lined box. The full 360 degree scale is graduated to one half of a degree.
The firm of Elliott Brothers produced a wide range of instruments over many years. The founder, William Elliott, began practice in about 1795 and was joined by his sons Frederick and Charles in the 1840s. They absorbed Watkins and Hill in 1857 and advertised as Opticians to the Admiralty.
Instruments signed "Elliott Brothers", as this one is, are generally 1850 and later. Elliott Brothers was still in existence in the mid-20th century.
Large Regency period English vernier octant
The name octant derives from the Latin octans meaning eighth part of a circle, referring to the angle of 45 degrees between the arms of the frame. The ivory scale is divided into 90 degrees, or one fourth of a circle. John Hadley (1682-1744) described an instrument of this sort to the Royal Society of London in 1731 and obtained a British patent in 1734. Accordingly, octants are sometimes known as Hadley quadrants.
This is a fine, large mahogany-framed octant with ivory scales and a decoratively engraved 16 inch arm. The arm's engraving depicts a swan among reeds with flowers and foliage.The instrument is in immaculate original condition overall. The brass and ivory have been lightly cleaned and the frame has been cleaned and waxed. It includes a custom-made mahogany and brass display stand.
This octant is signed Josh. Gaitskill, Wappin (Wapping), London. Joseph M. Gaitskill, NIM (Nautical Instrument Maker) practiced at two Wapping High Street addresses, 123 and 129, between 1793 and 1823. Wapping is just east of Tower Hill and the concentration of 18th-19th century instrument makers.
Early 18th century brass portable horizontal sundial by Delure, Paris.
The plate uses a 3 5/8 inch diameter revolving round dial with Roman numerals. The compass is decorated with a four-point rose and directionals, and has the original blued steel hand. The hinged gnomon with stylized bird pointer in the manner of Butterfield is scaled 40-60 degrees. The square plate with four threaded, adjustable feet is engraved Delure, Paris. 4 5/8 in. square. The maker is either Jean-Baptiste-Nicolas Delure (worked 1695-1736) or his son Claude, apprenticed in 1723.
Early 18th century
Aneroid barographs first appeared in 1867, and credit for the invention is given to the firm of Breguet who exhibited the first one at the Paris International Exhibition in that year. Barographs have been used to record atmospheric pressure in weather stations and laboratories ever since. A pen point linked to a vacuum chamber rises or falls with the changes in pressure, tracing the cycle for seven days on the paper chart affixed to the rotating drum. The drum is turned by a clock with lever escapement.
This instrument is labeled the Cyclo-Stormograph, and was sold by the Taylor Instrument Company of Rochester, New York. It was made by their Short & Mason subsidiary in England, and is in full working order. The case is mahogany with all original glass panels and original finish, and the fittings are nickel-plated steel. The clock, and its original winding key, is probably English in manufacture and uses a lever escapement. There is a repairer's mark on the clock for 1921. Charts and recording ink are included.
Taylor Instrument Company started in 1851 and purchased Short & Mason in 1900. Short & Mason patented this form of barograph, with the vacuum chamber under the base plate, in 1904. In 1915, the term "Cyclo-Stormograph" was copyrighted by Short & Mason to describe this particular instrument's use. An annotated recording chart, with A through K notations along the inches scale, was defined on the small stand-up card on the base, and theoretically the weather could be forecast from the action of the barograph.