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Surveyor’s Compass


This is a largish compass inside a black case with a black faux-leather cover. The case is hinged at the back and held close with a small knob latch that can be opened by moving the knob to one side. Inside, the case is lined with purple velvet. The compass lies face up in the case. Next to it, there is a brass component consisting of a screw attachment with a screw knob to hold the attachment in place. Above this, there is a ball joint.

The compass itself is circular with a glass top. Attached to the rim of the compass on hinged joints are two arms. One has a rounded rectangular gap cut through the middle, which is bisected length-ways by a thin rod. The other arm has a vertical slit through the centre. Both arms can be flapped down over the glass cover or made to stand vertically, or at any angle in between.

The face of the compass is black, with a central needle with indicator arrows at either end. Around the edge of the face there is a circular scale, divided into degrees and labelled 0 through 90 degrees in quarter circles. This scale is raised above the face. Written in white lettering on the face of the compass there are letters indicating N(orth), S(outh), E(ast) and W(est). Recessed into the face there are two bubble levels, perpendicular to one another.

On the rear of the compass, there is a threaded connector and a brass knob with a ridged knob.

Accession Number: 2019.for.17

Alternative Name: Circumferentor

Primary Materials:

Metal: Iron Alloy, Metal: Copper Alloy, Wood, Textile: Felt, Plastic (Faux Leather), Glass, Liquid.


Printed on the face of the compass: “KEUFFEL & ESSER CO.

Scratched into the rear of the base of the compass: “207”

Printed in gold on the box: “KEUFFEL & ESSER CO. N.Y.”

Written on a sticker on the box: “[????] 1975”

Dimensions (cm):

Box: Height = 5.1, Width = 15.2, Length = 18.


A surveyor’s compass is used in surveying to measure horizontal angles. This compass was used by students surveying forest landscapes.


Very Good: The black faux leather cover of the box is coming away in places, particularly in the corners and edges. Larger patches are missing from the top of the box. The hinges are still intact but both hinges and latch are rusty over most of their surfaces. The velvet covering in the case is in good condition, although one block designed to hold the compass and other components are out of place.

The compass itself is in very good condition. The paint is chipped around the rims and edges in a few places. The metal indicator arrow is still shiny, as is the metal of the scale.

The metal of the screw attachment is dulled in places, but not corroded.

Associated Instruments:

Manufacturer: Keuffel & Esser, New York

Date of Manufacture: c. 1890-1940


This item was used by undergraduate forestry students at the Department of Forestry. Since then, it has been stored by the Department. It was collected in July 2019 from Tony Ung.

Additional Information and References:

Historical Notes: