Heliograph Chesterman Surveyors Chain Larry & Carole Meeker
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Antique & Collectible
Surveying Instruments & Related Tools

 Levels, Chains, Plumb Bobs, & Related Accessories

I buy, sell, and deal in many antique surveying instruments and related tools. Gurley Solar TransitIn addition to this informational antiques related website www.AntiqBuyer.com, we also have our antique sales website www.Patented-Antiques.com where we conduct our surveying instrument sales and other antique sales.  If you are in the market to buy vintage and antique surveying instruments or other scientific related antiques please visit that page.

I am interested in many different types or forms of early survey instruments and associated gurley survey compass surveying tools and accessories.  I have specific pages covering other types of surveying instruments with links on the left.  To see past sales results look through the appropriate links in the right column.

We are especially interested in early surveying transits such as mining transits, Theodilites, solar transits or solar compasses.  Surveying instruments that have solar attachments, or those with auxiliary scopes used in mining applications, or instruments that have other unusual patented or special use features are desirable and valuable.

Antique Drafting SetIf you have antique surveying instruments or vintage surveyor's tools to sell, please contact me at AntiqBuyer@gmail.com with as many details as possible, including the size, the maker's name, or any other important written information. A pic would be especially helpful.

Pictures of the instrument are critical, and without them it is going to be impossible to determine what you have or be able to discuss it intelligently.  Just telling me you have a1859 Gordon's Patent Goniometer / Protractor Gurley, a Berger, David White, Lietz or Leitz etc. and giving me the serial number, or what you think is the serial # or model # is not enough information.

The list of American surveying instrument makers is extensive, and starts with such famous makers as Rittenhouse, who made instruments during George Washington's time, to the more well known and prolific makers like W. & L.  E. Gurley, A. Lietz, Buff, Berger, Heller & Brightly, Keuffel and Esser, Roach, Sala, or Queen & Co. to name just a few.

Surveying Tools & Accessories

One surveyor's tool we buy is called a surveying link chain, or Gunter Chain. Surveyor's chains are linked wire measuring devices that came in various lengths from 33' to 100' and in several different configurations including Metric. Common examples are either unmarked or English and marked Chesterman.  Chains can also be found marked K & E, Gurley, or by other American makers. Some have special features to compensate for heat or expansion. The links on earlier chains are not welded, and typically are on later ones.  Steel tapes on reels that were used by surveying parties in the recent past are referred to as chains but in general are not nearly as collectible or in demand as link chains.  There are now new reproduction chains being sold, be aware.

I am also interested in early tripods or compass staffs. The earlier the better.  Plane tables with Johnson Head tripods are also of interest.  I typically have both listed for sale on our sales antique plumb bobswebsite www.Patented-Antiques.com

I also buy other precision tools and accessories that a surveyor would use in the field or in the office.  I have mentioned many of these on other pages of this site, but the list would include planimeters, anemometers, early drafting sets in fitted wooden boxes, alidades, plane tables, plumb bobs & Plummets, and any form of lights used in mines.  plumb_reel2.jpg (16841 bytes)

Unusual plumb bobs like the one pictured here with an internal reel or string winder are sought. This style internal reel plumb bob can be found with several different names or unmarked. Other unusual plumb bobs have external wheels, or cranks, while those used for mining were called plummets and have a lighting feature so that they could be sighted in on at the end of a dark shaft or tunnel.

Surveying Stadia Rules

Surveyor's also used different calculators or means to figure large numbers in their Surveyors Stadia Rulework and all of these devices are of interest.  We ware especially interested in hand held Curta calculators. Additional info on them can be found on the calculation page.  Also of interest are different stadia slide rules used by Surveyors that were put out over the years.  K & E offered several different models with their more typical stick rules being the 12" 4100 Stadia Rule, and the 4101 20" model.  They also offered the Webb Stadia Rule that was a small portable circular or drum style stadia rule.  One of those pictured in the past sales archives.

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

Surveying Levels were designed and offered for different applications and oftentimes their names are an indication Berger Precise Levelof that use.  Examples are precise, railroad levels, architects, farm or drainage levels, dumpy or wye levels and more.  On the left is a  rare "Precise" level made for the US Coast and Geodedic Survey.Gurley Wye Level

On the right 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. 

Below on the right is an Alidade.  It is basically a level scope mounted to a base plate.  Alidades were used in the field to draw maps, layout roads, and were used 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.  
Convertible Level
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 reinserted to be used as a crude transit to shoot vertical angles.  These 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.

Selling Antique Surveying Instruments

If you have a surveying instrument that you want to sell pictures of the instrument and the amount Bradshaw's Patent Sighting Levelyou think you want to net from it sale would be a great help. Without that info it is going to be difficult to discuss or determine if there is a real interest in your piece. 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 my seeing it would be like me asking you what my car is worth, without telling you anything more than it is a Toyota.  In most cases it simply can not be done with so little information.

A Lietz Co. Serial #291 Aluminum Precision LeveThe surveying instruments you see here are examples of the caliber, conditionNegretti and Zambra pocket sextant and quality of these antiques that we buy.  To see past 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 antique surveying instruments or vintage surveyor's tools that you want to sell, please contact me at AntiqBuyer@gmail.com with as many details as possible, including the size, the maker's name, or any other important written information that is given.

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

Thank you!!
Larry & Carole

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Larry & Carole Meeker