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

including
 Levels, Chains, Plumb Bobs, & Related Accessories

We Buy or Can Help You Sell Vintage Surveying & Scientific Related Antiques!!

I buy, sell, and deal in many antique surveying instruments and related tools. Gurley Solar Transit In addition to this informational antiques related website www.AntiqBuyer.com,  we own and operate our antique sales website www.Patented-Antiques.com. It is from that website that 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.

Surveying Instruments General Outline

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 different types of surveying instruments you should visit through the links provided on the left.  To see past sales results look through the appropriate links in the right column.

There is a separate page for surveyor's compasses like the compass pictured to the right.

We are especially interested in early surveying transits  K & E Solar Transitfocusing on more complex antique surveying instruments such as mining related transits, Theodilites, solar transits or solar compasses.  Surveyor's 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 more difficult to find as they were offered to perform specific jobs as opposed to general work and so fewer were made and are considered more desirable and valuable.

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. 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 a Gurley, a Berger, David White, Lietz or Leitz etc. and giving me the serial number, or what you say is the serial # or model # is not enough information.

1859 Gordon's Patent Goniometer / ProtractorAsking me what is it worth with just some verbal info would be like me asking you what my car is worth without me telling you anything more about it then that it is a Toyota.

In the past I  have had people tell me they had an American Lietz transit worth $ 2000 or more dollars, that was supposedly appraised by one of the countries leading authority in surveying instruments, DALE BEEKS, that turned out to be nothing more than a piece of Japanese junk worth next to nothing.  He saw no pictures, I saw no pictures, and in the end that piece of garbage ended up being worth not $200 or less, its actual value, not the 2000.00 or more it was said to have been appraised at, but closer to $500,000.00 when all was said and done.  Was it lies and deceit, or just Gee, I just did not know.  I am still trying to figure out how what all Antique Drafting Sethappened, but no pictures was one reason.  Long Story Short. Send a pic or two.

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.  There are numerous makers of surveying instruments that have normal given names that were in business for varying periods of time in the 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 makers and their pieces. 

Surveying Tools & Accessories

One surveyor's tool that is always of interest is called a surveying link chain, or Gunter Chain.  Antique surveyors chainSurveyor's chains are linked wire measuring devices and came in various lengths from 33' to 100' and in several different configurations including Metric.  Commonly found 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 also referred to as chains but in general are not nearly as collectible or in demand as these earlier link chains.

I am also interested in early tripods or staffs that came with most surveying instruments. They come in many different sizes for different instruments.  The earlier the better.  Plane tables and their tripods are also of interest.  I have both of these listed for sale on our sales antique plumb bobswebsite www.Patented-Antiques.com if you are looking to buy them. 

I am interested in other precision tools and accessories that a surveyor or related  trades would use on the job 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 other form of lights used in mines, etc.  plumb_reel2.jpg (16841 bytes)

Unusual plumb bobs like the one pictured here with an internal reel or string winder are especially sought.  This style internal reel plumb bob can be found with several different names or can be found 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.  Plumb bobs come in all shapes and sizes, and are very collectible when patented or have some unique attribute.

Surveying Stadia Rules

Surveyor's also used different calculators or means to figure large numbers in their Surveyors Stadia Rule work and all of these different devices are of interest as well.  The latest examples used that we would be interested in would be 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  made or offered several different models through the years with their more typical stick rules being the 12" 4100 Stadia Rule, or the 4101 20" model.  They also offered the Webb Stadia Rule that was a small portable circular or drum style stadia rule that is very difficult to find today.  I have one of those pictured in the past sales archives that I sold.

Levels, Plumb Bobs, Plummets, 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 anJohn Roach Vernier Mining Compass w/ Clinometer Sighting Feature early explorer, surveyor, architect, engineer or builder would have used in his trade. In addition to this informational website we operate www.Patented-Antiques.com 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 AntiqBuyer.

Berger Precise LevelThe 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 AntiqBuyer@gmail.com providing me with as many details as possible.

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 example of previously sold antiques from our websites visit the Past Sales Archive Pages through the links on the right.

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

A Lietz Co. Serial #291 Aluminum Precision Leve Negretti and Zambra pocket sextant




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Larry & Carole Meeker