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Theodolite and Tripod


This object consists of a theodolite in a rectangular wooden box (2016.ihpst.34.1) and a tall surveying tripod (2016.ihpst.34.2) onto which the theodolite can be mounted.

The theodolite consists of a long, black telescope-like tube mounted horizontally. Directly underneath there is a long graduated spirit level containing water. These two are mounted on a solid black base with four adjustable leveling screws. Underneath the screws there is a round cylindrical base with a screw interior for attachment for the tripod. One brass knob is attached to the telescope and adjust the focus. Another is attached to a plate underneath the spirit level.

The box is rectangular with a flip-up lid. Inside the box there are sections for storing various attachments. One section contains a brass case which contains a item shaped like a ring with four pieces screwed into it, and then two metal rods. Another contains a piece of beige packing material. At the other side, there is a section with three cylindrical holes –the centre one holds a small lens; in this section there is also a small key. A final section holds a graduated glass cylinder with water inside, possibly a spirit level.

The tripod is made of wood and each foot has a pointed brass end. On the top of the tripod there is a cylindrical attachment with screw threads on the outside, for attaching to the base of the theodolite.

Accession Number: 2016.ihpst.34.1-2

Alternative Name:

Primary Materials:

2016.ihpst.34.1: Wood, Metal; 2016.ihpst.34.2: Metal: Iron Alloy, Glass, Leather.


Theodolite: On the outside of the box: In large ornate cold text: “16.7” and smaller, but also gold: “SURVEYING DEPARTMENT”. On a small paper sticker: “PROPERTY OF UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO”.

Inside the lid of the box on a sticker: “E. R. Watts & Son. Surveyors & Architects’ Instruments & Materials, 123, Camberwell Rd, London, England.””E. R. & SON, CANADA, LIMITED. OTTAWA, WINNIPEG, MONTREAL AND TORONTO.” On another paper sticker: “INSTRUMENT No. 5979” “DATE 14/7/14” “CONSTANT=1.8 FEET”. On another sticker: “When levelling Instrument, be careful not to strain the Levelling Screws.”

On the rim of the box: “OBJECT GLASS”.

In the inside of the box: “FITTING FOR TELESCOPE CAP”.

On the theodolite’s flat platform: “SURVEYING DEPARTMENT”.

On one of the legs of the tripod, in large gold lettering: “16 L”.

Dimensions (cm):

Box (2016.ihpst.34.1): Height =25.0, Width =14.1; Length = 43.3; Theodolite (2016.ihpst.34.1): Height = 18, Width = 11, Length = 41; Tripod (2016.ihpst.34.2): Length =149, Width = 13.9.


A theodolite is an instrument for measuring vertical and horizontal angles in order to produce a map of the landscape for construction. The tripod is a stand for the theodolite for when working out in the field.


Good: The theodolite is in good condition with some scratches and marks from use. The box is also scratched and dented. Some of the additional paraphernalia appears to be missing.

The tripod is also scratched and the metal slightly corroded. The tips of the legs have some residual dirt from use outdoors.

Associated Instruments: 2016.ihpst.35

Manufacturer: E. R. Watts & Son.

Date of Manufacture: 1914


This object was collected from the University Planning, Design and Construction Department, where it was found in a storage closet. It was likely used in the construction of university buildings in the first half of the 20th century.

Additional Information and References:

Historical Notes: