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Antique American Surveying Transits

Past Sales Archive

This is just a sample of the many antique surveying instruments we have sold.
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We Buy Quality Surveying Related Antiques
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Prices seen span a long period of time and may not reflect current values.  Some are selling for more, many now sell for less.
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Japanese WWII Era TOKO Theodolite / Transit Japanese WWII Era TOKO Theodolite / Transit  Marked on scope with name and power info. It is in good overall condition. Crisp optics, crosshairs present. Good bubbles. All motions are free and smooth. The scope is approx. 10" long. The box is solid with Japanese writing on it. Some empty spots on the sliding base for small accessories. Auxiliary compass sets on top. Nice!!

Good +  . . . . . $295.00      SOLD!!

Buff & Berger Bevel-Limb TransitBuff & Berger Bevel-Limb Transit his large & graphic Buff & Berger Bevel-Limb Transit is a rare instrument.  It is in very good overall condition. There is no serial number but given the Buff & Berger inscription it pre-dates the partnership breaking up in 1898.

This style transit with a beveled limb made the back cover of the 1897 Buff & Berger catalog and was also offered in a few later Berger catalogs after the Buff & Berger partnership dissolved in 1898.

A renamed version still commands the back page of the 1908 Berger catalog I have. I had one other Buff & Berger bevel limb transit 15 or so years ago and have never seen another offered for sale, or in other collections. That other one came from a direct descendent of the original makers family. The catalogs that featured this transit as the back cover also featured the rare double standard mining transit they offered as the centerfold. The prominent placement in the catalog was not by accident. It is a very special piece.

This transit is one of the few American instruments produced with a beveled limb on the horizontal circle. The write up in the catalog explains why the idea was not utilized for long and why so few were produced. It also explains why it was not promoted as a "new improved - better idea". Bottom line, it was difficult and expensive to produce, very fragile, and prone to wear out or get damaged. The write up further warns that repairs would cost several times more than on a typical instrument with flat plate vernier scales.

The catalog description goes on and on about all the draw backs, and ends with the statement "To our mind bevel graduations should be confined to exceptional cases and to larger instruments read by micrometer microscopes. It is a wonder anyone ever bought one given the catalog write-up. Marketing 101 at its worst.

The scope is 12" long, and the compass needle 3 /34" long. The brass areas have a nice even natural patina. The optics are good. There is one vertical crosshair. All motions operate smoothly. The needle swings freely and points north. All level vials are good. The box is period and made for the instrument but is sort of crudely done so am not sure if it is factory. It has a 3 point leveling system, and the proper tripod with some minor repairs is included.

One of but a handful known. This rare beveled limb transit will display very nicely and has a great graphic look and nice patina to it. Opportunity!!!

Fine  . . . . . . $1500.00       SOLD!!

A. S. Aloe Optician / St. Louis Mo. Transit w/ French CrossA. S. Aloe Optician / St. Louis Mo. Transit w/ French Cross This is an odd form transit that instead of having a typical horizontal plate, has what is called a French Cross, a drum like device w/ a compass, several sighting slots and a revolving features, below the scope. Below that is a small 4 point leveling base. It all fits tightly & neatly into the box shown in the pics.

The French Cross is inscribed with the Aloe name, St Louis Mo. location and his occupation, Optician. At different times Aloe offered other makers work, including Gurley pieces and ones of French manufacture. He marked many of them as if he was the maker. A. S. Aloes working dates are from approx. 1860 to his death in 1893. After that the company continued with various owners. 

Typical French crosses are devices to help the user find right angles. There are sighting slits in the body at 90 degrees to each other.  It also has a silvered scale.   It is unusual to find one combined with a transit scope, and especially with an American makers name. An interesting and nice display piece.

Fine  . . . . . . . $495.00        SOLD!!

William Young / Maker Philadelphia TransitWilliam Young / Maker Philadelphia Survey Transit This is an early and nice example of William Young's work. Young is credited with producing the first surveying instruments known as transits in the 1830s by combining the features of levels and compasses into a single instrument.

The serial # of this transit is 3859. The Smithsonian has a very similar instrument in their collection with a serial # in the three thousands that they date as being from the 1850s. I have an extendable leg tripod w/ the proper leveling head that fits the tapered mount on the bottom of this transit. There is no room in he box for the transit with the base attached so this must be as it was sold and correct. The leveling head is marked with Young's 1858 patents. The legs of the tripod may be replacements given the "Tripod Type - F" marking on one leg bracket.

Good  . . . . . $650.00         SOLD!!

Bausch & Lomb Surveying TransitBausch & Lomb Surveying Transit  Bausch & Lomb is most famous for their line of binoculars and other optics but ventured in to the surveying instrument field after George N. Saegmuller, the inventor of the solar attachment that bears his name,  joined the company in 1905. They stopped making instruments for the general public during WWI so they were not in the surveying instrument business for long. There is a nice history on the company at the site.

This transit has the logo the company adopted after 1907 and dates from right around that time period. The transit comes in the proper original box. It is a large, heavy, and overall nice condition piece. All motions are free, optics OK but not really crisp, good bubbles, crosshairs, etc. Box is nice.

Good + . . . . . . $350.00           SOLD!!

H. M. Pool Survey TransitH. M. Pool Survey Transit  H. M. Pool was from Easton Mass. Pool was born in 1803, and according to Smart's bio on him his working dates were from 1828 till his death in 1878.  He is best known for his compasses, and very few transits by him are known.  This transit is a large, heavy, well built instrument with a very graphic look. 

The scope measures approx. 9" and the plate is 6 3/4".  The compass needle is 4 1/2". The compass works as it should. All motions are free and move smoothly.   The bubbles are good.  The optics clear, and crosshairs are present.  The box is in nice condition.  It has a Thaxter label on the door.  Thaxter was both a distributer and maker during this period.  The transit fits inside, barely.   There is no mounting ring on the bottom plate for it to attach  to. 

Good +  . . . . . . $825.00    SOLD!!

Lietz Engineers Mining TransitLietz Engineers Mining Transit  This Lietz Mining Transit is a large and commanding instrument in good overall condition. The name info is under the glass below the north point on the compass face. The serial # is 13677. The A. Lietz Co. of San Francisco stopped making instruments around the beginning of WWII and opened up shop shortly before the turn of the century. This transit would date from some point before that and after the turn of the century. Note how the ends of the scope axles have threaded caps for mounting a second scope and counterweight there. Below the plate is a swinging arm that would hold magnifiers for reading the vernier plate scales. Those magnifiers are missing. The optics are OK, and crosshairs present. There is no box. A nice display piece.

Good  . . . . . . . $395.00       SOLD!!

J. C. Sala TransitJ. C. Sala Transit  J. C. Sala's Working dates are from the 1891 to 1916.  He operated out of San Francisco and advertised himself as the successor to John Roach the well known California instrument maker who he had worked for.

The serial # is 1031. The overall cosmetic condition is fine with original finishes. It is a small light mountain or preliminary size w/ a 9" scope.  There is no box.  A very nice display piece. 

Good + . . . . . $495.00        SOLD!!

E. G. Soltmann N.Y. Monarch Transit E. G. Soltmann N.Y. "Monarch" Transit  E. G. Soltmann does not show up as a maker in any of the references I have or at sites on the internet.  There are vague references to him being in business as a supplier of Drafting and Engineering supplies.  Under the glass is the E. G. Soltmann name, N.Y. location, and "Monarch" in quotes Transit. 

The serial # is 199. The overall cosmetic condition is fine with original finishes. It is a small light mountain or preliminary size instrument w/ a 9" scope.  The needle lock is not working.  The rest all seems to be OK with good optics.  There is no box.  A very nice display piece. 

Good + . . . . . $495.00        SOLD!!

Buff & Berger #11 Theodolite / TransitBuff & Berger # 11 Theodolite / Transit  This  unusual special use surveying instrument is in excellent condition. The partnership of Buff & Berger was formed in the 1870's and dissolved in 1898.  Each partner went their own way, and opened up new shops under the names Berger & Sons, and Buff & Buff.

The scope on this unusual instrument is 11"  long and the image inverted.  The optics are crisp and clear.  The end plate on one side is marked City of Boston St Laying Out Department.  In reading from a Buff & Buff catalog from this era it can be seen that this style theodolite was designed specifically for this type of application.  Road building that is.  An interesting feature is that the caps on the end of the scope axles can be swung out so that the scope can be lifted and reinserted 180 degrees so that one could shoot a line to the rear without disturbing the set-up of the base. This design was necessary as the scope can not be turned in a full circle when mounted because the optics were such that the scope is too long to do that.  All of the level vials are full and appear to be original.  There are two magnifiers over the vernier scales to help with reading the fine graduations on the silver scales.  There is no tripod or box. 

A large, graphic and rare instrument that is in very nice condition and will be a highlight of any display or collection.

Good + . . . . . . $500.00       SOLD!!

George Shilling - Washington DC Surveying TransitGeorge Shilling - Washington DC Surveying Transit  An interesting instrument made by a little known but documented maker who was born in Norway in 1844 and first opened up his own shop in Washington DC in 1875.  There is a short bio on him at the Smithsonian site who own several of his instruments, in Smarts book on Surveying instruments, and some more info at the site.  The info found indicates the government was his best customer, and that he died about the time of WWI. 

The optics are OK, but one of the 3 horizontal crosshairs has broken. That has affected the vertical crosshair.  All the motions are free and move well enough. The level bubble on the plate is broken, the one on the plate is OK.  It came in a box, but it is not original.  For some reason the vertical circle is not marked off in degrees.  The edge is silvered and tarnished, but there is no increment markings on it.  A mystery.  It has a nice patina, and will display nicely as it sits.

Good  . . . . . $395.00        SOLD!!

Dietzgen Engineers Transit in BoxDietzgen Engineers Transit in Box   This is a nice looking Engineers size transit by Dietzgen.  The serial number of 14,236 would date it from the late 20's, a period they were producing approx. 500 instruments a year.

The overall condition is nice. The black finish is well over 90%.  Cross hairs are present, and the optics are good.  All bubbles are full.  All motions are free and smooth.  The compass points north.  Nice!!

Good +  . . . . . . $395.00       SOLD!!

Weiss & Heitzler Prismatic Scope Transit This is a very unusual transit.  The maker mark, Weiss & Heitzler Instrument Co. Denver Colo. and the patent info of June 1908 can be found under the glass on the compass face.  Paul Weiss was born in Switzerland, and moved to the United States in 1881. From 1906 to 1910 he worked in partnership with Frank Heitzler, whose patent (#891,773), dated June 23, 1908, described a telescope with two prisms making it substantially shorter than telescopes ordinarily used with surveying instruments at the time.  The scope on this transit measures under 7" and is of the type described.  There are short Bio's on both Weiss and Heitzler in Smarts book on surveying instruments, and all of that info was derived from that.

The Smithsonian has a transit / instrument that looks very similar to this one marked Weiss & Heitzler in their online collection. They show, and refer to the binocular style scope like this transit has, but get the patent date / number wrong.  The correct patent for the offset scope with prisms, much like a binocular is Pat. 891773 - June 23 1908.  Heitzler pulled another patent,  US Pat. 946602 - Jan 18, 1910, for a mining transit with a very unusual feature of a sliding standard so that the transit could be used for mining purposes when the standards were shifted to the edge of the plate.  There are no known examples of that transit known.

The overall condition is fine.  Parts of this transit like the screw base and parts of the scope are made of Aluminum.  Most of the rest is brass.  The scope is approx. 7" long.  The compass needle 3 1/2" and working.  The finish, a mottled bronzing, is factory and in super condition.The optics are clear and not inverted.  The crosshairs, 3 horizontal and one vertical, are present.  The vertical circle is 4" Dia.  All motions are free, and operable and smooth.

This is an interesting and rare transit that would be a fine addition to any collection of surveying instruments.  Opportunity Knocks.

Good +  . . . . . . . $995.00         SOLD!!

Antique Explorer Transit Expedition Size Transit w/ Aux. Compass & Tripod  This is a super condition rare & unusual miniature antique surveying instrument. The scope on this tiny transit is only 4" long. There are two tags in the lid of the box.  One from the San FranciscoAntique explore Transit w/ Compass instrument maker Lietz and one from Schwalb Hermanos who I believe was a large distributer in South America and also had an office in France. I see no marking on the instrument itself but am confident that it is French or European and not US made.

The aux. compass mounts over the top like a striding level.  Note that West is called off with a O.  Also note the beveled limb on the plate.  The tripod legs are hollow and the extension leg slides up into the larger portion.  A neat design.  The box measures approx. 6" square.  The plumb bob is a two piece affair,  I assumes so that it will stop swinging quicker given the extra weight.  The optics are good, and crosshairs are present.  A super display piece for the science / technology antique collection or home decor.

Fine . . . . . . $800.00    SOLD!!

C. L. Berger & Son Engineer TransitC. L. Berger & Son Engineer Transit This is a nice looking Engineer size Surveying transit that is in in nice condition.  Good Patina.  No condition issues. There is no box.  A nice piece that will fit into many different collections or decors.

Good +  . . . . . . . $350.00        SOLD!!

C. L. Berger Surveyors' No. 6 1/4-rs TransitC. L. Berger Surveyors' No. 6 1/4 Transit   A minty nice 70 some year old surveyors' transit in its original box. The serial # of 29060 would date it from approx. 1945.  Everything about it is nice. It looks to have never been used.  The black crinkle finish is near perfect. 

It is a large graphic instrument with a 11 1/2 inch scope.  The compass needle is 3 1/2.  Note the triple reading vernier on the 5" vertical circle.  Very Graphic, and Very Nice!!

Fine . . . . . . $395.00    SOLD!!

Seiler Builders Transit in BoxSeiler Builders Transit in Box   A super condition instrument that is NOS / Never been used.  This Seiler transit looks to date from the 60's.  Seiler began operations in the 1940s and  the company is still in business today.  They are based in St Louis MO.  They have moved into other related fields.  A history can be found at

This instrument is a clone to the K & E version offered above or similar instruments by David White, Berger, or others that are out there.  It is the design instrument I use to have and use for layouts and general work when I was a general contractor.  It served me well. This builders transit / level has a single spring loaded lever release on the side to turn it into a limited transit to shoot vertical angles.  It would be perfect for the casual user or builder and a better piece of equipment than Home Depot or Lowes peddles these days for more money. 

Fine . . . . . . $150.00     SOLD!!

Umeco Model 200 TransitUmeco Model 200 Transit   This small transit looks to date from the 1960's or so.  I believe it is Japanese and marketed here by Lietz w/o that info anywhere to be seen.  Similar to Sokkisha instruments also marketed by them.  It looks to have seen little use. There is a US Forest Department tag on the box.  Part of the US Government procurement process no doubt.  Buy new to replace the little used older instrument, sell that instrument for pennies, store the new one for a while, then sell it for pennies on the dollar.  Repeat every few years.

Everything works and the optics are crisp and clear. It will make for a fine general purpose user. 

Fine  . . . . . . . $195.00       SOLD!!

Wild Heerbrugg T 16 Theodolite Transit Switzerland Wild Heerbrugg T 16 Theodolite Transit Switzerland    Top of the line in its day.  It looks to be in fine condition.  The literature that came with it indicated it was bought as a gift by a son for his father to use on the ranch property without the son realizing it has an inverted image, and so was traded in for something else more suitable for casual use and then sat on a shelf in the shops storage room for 40 years.  

Fine . . . . . . $325.00       SOLD!!

Berger Transit Berger Transit  This transit will make for a great display piece.  The box is a bit torn up and the door needs to be reset.  It looks as if somebody started to refinish it and stopped.   Everything seems to be working OK.   The scope is approx. 10" long and the optics are clear with crosshairs present. The serial # 14783 as seen under the compass glass.  I believe it dates from the 30's or so.  The black crinkle finishes on the mostly brass instrument are original and OK.  They purposefully left some areas like the base and eyepieces in natural brass.  It has a 4" full vertical circle scaled to 30'.   There is a pad missing under one of the leveling screws on the leveling head.   

Note:  I have a nice fixed leg tripod that will fit this instrument.  It is a non standard size approx. 3 1/4 x 12.  It is offered separately for $125.00 additional.

Good  . . . . . .$650.00       SOLD!

Buff & Buff Surveyor's / Engineers Transit Buff & Buff Surveyor's / Engineers Transit   This is a nice looking surveying instrument by one of the best known makers of surveying instruments in America.  George Buff studied under and made instruments for a number of other makers before going into business for himself in the 1860's.  In the 1890's he formed the company Buff & Buff in New York and this company remained in business until 1980 or so.  This instruments design was their mainstay and was produced for over 70 years from the research I have seen.   The condition is very nice noting the missing eye piece end cover, the optics are fine, and a repair to the Mahogany box.  The serial # and patent date can be seen in the close-up of the compass face, which also shows how nice the finish is.  The finish on the instrument itself is super and original.  I believe it dates from the first quarter of the 20th century.

Good . . . . .$750.00        SOLD

Buff & Buff Engineer's or Builders TransitBuff & Buff Engineer's or Builders Transit   The overall condition and look of this surveying instrument from the famous Boston Maker Buff & Buff, which dates from the early part of the last century is second to none.  It is fully operational and all moving parts and adjusters move freely.  All 3 of the level vials are good.  The sight glasses are nice as well.  The Compass is operational, and its locking feature functions.  The clear lacquer finish is near perfect and original.  The green finish portions on the supports and wheel cover are in great condition also and add a great contrasting look.  The box is also very nice as well.  A super piece for display or the collection.

Good . . . . .$650.00        SOLD

Buff & Buff Expedition Size TransitBuff & Buff Engineer's Transit   The overall condition and look of this surveying instrument from the famous Boston Maker Buff & Buff is very nice.  It is fully operational and all moving parts and adjusters move freely.  All 3 of the level vials are good.  The sight glasses are nice as well.  The Compass is operational, and its locking feature functions.  The box is also very nice as well.  A super piece for display or the collection.

Good . . . . .$750.00        SOLD

C. L. Berger & Sons Engineer's TransitC. L. Berger & Sons Engineer's Transit   The serial # is 17,502, and this would date this surveyor's or engineer's transit / instrument from approx. 1930 or so.  The optics are clear, the crosshairs present, and the compass is functioning.  All other motions are free and operate as they should.  All level vials are full and appear to be original.  There are 2 small screws that hold the shroud over the vertical scale that are missing.  This instrument is currently housed a nicely done craftsman made box that fits it nicely. 

Good . . . . .$575.00        SOLD

Below is a short history of this company that comes from the Smithsonian's well done site and pictures some of their collection.  The link to that site is


Christian Louis Berger (1842–1922) was born at Stuttgart, and was descended from men who made arms and armor for the royal family of Würtemberg. He apprenticed with Christian Saeger, a local maker of surveying instruments and analytical scales, and worked in other instrument shops in Germany and England. Moving to Boston in 1866, Berger worked for E. S. Ritchie & Son and then for John Upham. In 1871 he joined with George Louis Buff, and began trading as Buff & Berger.

In 1898, after an acrimonious dispute over the roles that their sons would play in the business, Buff and Berger parted company. Berger acquired the assets of Buff & Berger, began trading as C. L. Berger & Sons, purchased a 30-inch dividing engine from William Würdemann, built a new factory in Roxbury, and continued to produce instruments for engineers and surveyors. Although C. L. Berger & Sons remained successful throughout the first half of the 20th century, they could not adjust to the electronic revolution that swept the instrument enterprise in the postwar period, or compete with inexpensive instruments from abroad. The Chicago Steel Tape Company purchased the remains of C. L. Berger & Sons in 1995.

Buff & Buff Explorer TransitBuff & Buff Expedition Size Transit   After the partnership of Buff & Berger was dissolved in 1898 each partner went off on their own to form new instrument making companies with Berger going into business with his sons, as Berger & Sons, and Buff doing the same starting the new company of Buff & Buff with his sons.

This is a nice looking transit with a 8" scope which I believe would make it an expedition size transit . The serial number is 10,616, and I am not sure how Buff & Buff went about numbering their instruments after the breakup of the partnership. Berger just picked up where the two had left off, and from the look of this transit and figuring Buff did the same I would think this transit dates from near the turn of the century and before the 1920's.

All of the bubbles are good, and the compass functions. All the motions are free and turn properly. The crosshairs are present. The serial number on the base is the same as the instruments. It has a 4" silver vertical circle scaled to read to a minute. A great size transit and very nice looking instrument that will display very nicely.

Good . . . . .$450.00        SOLD

Buff & Berger Bevel Limb TransitBuff & Berger Bevel Limb Transit   This is a rare transit that made the back page of the 1897 Buff & Berger catalog.  It is one of the few American instruments produced with a beveled vernier at the edge of the plate.  The write up in the catalog explains why the idea did not last long.  it was hard and expensive to produce, and was very fragile.  One of but a handful known.

Fine. . . . .   SOLD

Buff & Berger #2 Light Mountain Size TransitBuff & Berger #2 Light Mountain Size Transit   The partnership of Buff & Berger was formed in 1871.  They were located in Boston, and were in business until 1898 when the partnership was dissolved and each party went off on their own to form new surveying instrument companies.   Berger went into business with his sons, as Berger & Sons, and Buff did the same starting  the new company of Buff & Buff.  There are Bios for both companies from Smarts reference book that can be found at the Smithsonian site if interested. 

This is a nice looking transit with a 9" scope which according to the catalog I have would make it a #2 size transit.   From the serial number of 175 it seems that this transit was made during the first few years of the companies formation in the 1870's.

The center yoke piece is made of a white bronze or brass and has a great contrasting look with the rest of the instruments darker patiniated brass contrasting with that color.  All of the bubbles are good, and the compass functions.  All the motions are free and turn properly.  The rear lens adjustment is tight and needs a lube to focus the crosshairs easier, but they are there.

A great size and very nice looking instrument from a maker better known for their larger instruments. Buff & Berger instruments are equal in quality and feature to anything Gurley or K& E were putting out during the same time period.  They were a well known and respected firm and this instrument is far rarer than a similar size instrument by either of those better known and more prolific makers.  It will display very nicely.

Good+ . . . . . .$450.00        SOLD!!

Buff & Buff TransitBuff & Buff Engineer's / Surveyors Transit w/ Box  This transit has an engraving on the outer plate that says #6 California Highway Commission.  Under the compass glass is the maker name Buff & Buff, and a reference to a patent granted in 1900.  The serial # is 7237.  The Buff & Buff firm originated after the break-up of the original Buff & Berger partnership about 1898.  I would assume this transit dates from just a few years after the turn of the century.   

The overall condition is nice.  It does show signs of use.  It has all original finishes. Buff was known for this sort of thing, where they would finish the barrel one way, black in this case, the standards another, green,  and the base plate left natural.  It helped give their instruments a distinctive "look".  The compass operates, it turns nicely, The half circle on the side is silvered, and the all motions seem to move a they should.  The three level vials are OK. 

All in all a nice example that has a great patina and graphic look to it.  It will display very nicely.

Good  . . . . . .$750.00     SOLD!!

Heller & Brightly Light Mountain Transit in BoxHeller & Brightly Light Mountain Transit in Box   This is a nice looking light mountain size transit by the well known Pennsylvania maker Heller & Brightly.  The serial number of 10,072 would date it from the 1930s and near the end of this companies production.  H & B were making 50 or less instruments per year during this later period. They first opened their doors for business of making surveying instruments in 1870.

The overall condition is nice. Cross hairs are present, and the optics are good.  All bubbles are full.  All motions are free and smooth.  The compass points north.  Different, and Nice!!

Good +  . . . . . . $395.00         SOLD!!

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This is just a sample of the many antique surveying instruments we have sold. Click link to see other Sales Archive Pages on this Site.

We Buy Quality Surveying Related Antiques
Contact Us at

Our current offering of Antiques for sale are at our sister Website

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Larry & Carole Meeker