Berger Precise Level A Lietz Co. Serial #291 Aluminum Precision Leve Larry & Carole Meeker
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Antique Dealers & Brokers

Purveyors and Dealers of Americana  /  Patented & Mechanical Antiques

Antique & Collectible Surveying Instruments

Transits, Theodolites, Solar Instruments, Levels, Compasses, Chains, Plumb Bobs, Etc.

We buy or can help you sell Surveying & Scientific Related Antiques!!

We buy sell and deal in many different types and styles of antique surveying instruments and related accessories an early explorer, surveyor, architect, engineer or builder would have used in his trade. In addition to this informational website we operate where we conduct our surveying instrument and other antique sales from.  That website is one of the largest single owner antique sales websites on the internet dealing in surveying related antiques and other tool and technology related antiques.

If you have surveying instruments or other tool & technology related antiques you would like to sell please visit that webpage to see how we conduct our consignment sales.   If you would like to consign with us and have additional questions please see the FAQ page and other informational pages at either site or Contact Us.
John Roach Vernier Mining Compass w/ Clinometer Sighting Feature
The list of desirable surveying instrument makers is extensive, and starts with such famous makers as 18th century makers like Rittenhouse, who made instruments during George Washington's time, both for him, Thomas Jefferson, and other notable figures of that time.

Later and more well known prolific makers like W. E. Gurley, Lietz, Buff, Berger, Heller & Brightly, Keuffel and Esser, Roach, Sala, or Queen & Co. to name just a few are desirable and sought after as well.   There are numerous early makers of surveying instruments that have normal given names that were in business for varying periods of time in the 18th & 19th century.  The list of individual maker names is extensive and can not really be given here but there is interest in many of these lesser known surveying instrument makers as well. 

Wye, Dumpy, Railroad, Engineers, Architects
& Other Surveying Levels

On this page I will briefly discuss different types and forms of surveying levels, and give you a sense of different surveying levels values should you have one for sale.  In general levels are not worth as much as say compasses or transits.  Wye Gurley Wye LevelLevels are better than dumpy levels. Convertible or Architects levels are better than dumpy levels, but not by much.  As with other surveying instruments, usually the earlier the better with early to mid 19th century levels being worth far more than 19th century examples. 

Pictured here is a Wye level or engineer's level  made by W. L. & E Gurley of Troy NY.  It dates from the late 19th century.  Levels like this looked very similar for nearly 100 years with only minor changes.  They came in lengths from under 12" to 26" or so.  Just above is a very small Gurley Explorer's level.  That levels scope is only 10" long or so, and is a very hard to find instrument.   Wye level values can range from about $100 to $1000 or more for a rare variation, or an example by an early, rare and desirable maker. K & E Railroad Level

Most later and more typical level values fall into the $200.00 - $500.00 range in nice condition w/ box and  tripod.  Examples of levels that would fall into the lower end of any range are later examples in a black or green crinkle finish like the one pictured here on the right.  Dumpy levels are much the same.  On the other hand, the level in the top left corner is in a black finish, but is a very rare "Precise" level made for the US Coast and eodedic Survey and would sell for much more.  It is all in the details. 

Surveying Levels were designed and offered for different applications and oftentimes their names are an indication of that use.  Examples are railroad levels, architects levels, farm or drainage levels, dumpy levels and more. alidade They were made and offered for jobs where the user does not have the need to shoot vertical angles but did need to shoot long straight and level lines.

On the rleft is what is known as an Alidade.  It is basically a level scope mounted to a base plate.  This type of instrument was used in the field to help draw maps layout roads and were used in conjunction with a plane table & tripod.  They come in different forms and sizes, and are identified by names such as high post, low post, explorer, and others for different applications.  They are not rare, and many are later as they were in common usage well into the 20th century.  In general they sell in the 200 -300 range with a few bringing more.  Convertible LevelThey do have a graphic look about them and earlier examples do display nicely.   

Next is what is known as a convertible level.  This type of level / transit could be set up as either  a standard level (as shown), or by using the pieces shown the instrument could be turned 90 degrees in the frame and was reinserted to be used as a basic if not crude transit to shoot vertical angles.  These complex looking, but relatively simple survey devices were mostly aimed at casual or less professional users such as home builders and were produced in large numbers.  Top of the line models also had a compass.  (See below right) In general they do not usually command large sums of money in today's marketplace and $200.00 - 400.00 about covers it.

Selling Antique Surveying Instruments

If you have a surveying instrument that you want to sell pictures of the instrument you want to sell and the amount you think you want to net from it sale would be a Architects Transit / Level w/ Compassgreat help. Without that info it is going to be difficult to discuss or determine if there is a real interest in your piece.   Unrealistic expectations especially when the seller is the only one who knows what that number is are just a time waster. 

Trying to evaluate or consider an instrument that is being offered for sale without seeing it and having the important details is a near impossible situation.  Just telling me you have a Gurley, Berger, David White, or other name instrument and giving me the serial number is not enough information.  Asking me what your instrument is worth without seeing it, Bradshaw's Patent Sighting Leveland with just that amount of info would be like me asking you what my car is worth, without me telling you anything more about it other than that it is a Toyota.  In most cases it simply can not be done with so little information.  At a minimum please have the instrument in front of you when you call. 

If you are looking for a quick sale you might consider eBay, but if  you want to try and net something approaching a rreasonable retail you should contact me. I routinely sell instruments from our sales website for far more than similar pieces bring on eBay. 

I am also interested in buying early tripods or staffs that came with most surveying instruments.  They can come in a variety of sizes and configurations and there is always a market for them. 

The surveying instruments you see here are examples of the caliber, condition and quality of these antiques that we primarily deal K & E / Keuffel & Esser #5093 Alidade in and can help you sell.  To see sales results of instruments and other antiques we have sold in the past, please see the Sales Archive Pages in the right column.

If you have quality antique surveying instruments similar to those that you see on this page that you want to  sell,  please contact us at providing me with as many details as possible.

To see examples of antique surveying instruments and related equipment that I currently have for sale, please go to our sister site at and visit the surveying related sale pages you will find there.

Thank you!!
Larry & Carole

Early W. & L. E. Gurley 16" Surveyor's or Engineer's Level W. & L. E. Gurley Surveyor's or Engineer's # 376 Y Level 

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Larry & Carole Meeker