Old Survey Instruments

A Private Collection


Hello, thanks for visiting my web page.

I started employment in the Surveying Industry in 1969 and retired in 2016.
My interest in antique survey instruments started about 20 years ago and since then I have built up a sizeable collection of selected surveying instruments, compasses and early text books and I wanted to share this collection as a virtual museum.
I feel passionate about the industry and wanted to preserve a bit of history, in this electronics day and age, for a generation to come.

Just about all of my collection is over 100 years old and I now only collect instruments pre 1900.

I have done extensive research into the dating of instruments but there are some instruments that I cannot find any information on, but
I have had quite a few instances where I could not find information on the web and after looking through various old text books was able to accurately date an instrument from manufacturer’s advertisements in the front and back of the text books - a pretty exciting moment when I come up with another piece of the dating puzzle. Other exciting moments occurred when I was able to trace an owners name on an instrument or wooden case and track down information on that owner through ancestry.com.

One of the purposes for setting up this web site is to enable any visitors to provide comments or correct any information on any of the articles listed or even to try to find out more about their own instruments in their collection.
There were no calculators nor computers available to our office in 1969 and all computations were carried out using log tables. All drafting was done with bow pens and nibs on linen and heavy weight fieldnote paper and field work was carried out using a steel band and micrometer theodolite. The unit of band used for measuring depended on the unit that a Title was issued in eg if the title was in Acres Roods and Perches ( usually a rural title) then a chain band was used and when the title was in feet and inches a band marked in feet and inches was used ( usually urban areas.) Conversion to the metric system in Australia came a few years later in about 1974.
There have been many sources of information that I have accessed to date my collection and I have tried to keep the information provided as factual and not plagiarize any works without reference or acknowledgement of the original source.
This site is always a work in progress.     Last Update - Dec 2020.

I appreciate feed back and would only be too happy to list reference to other websites if requested.

Please leave a note on the Contact Page so that I can get an idea if this site has been of interest to viewers. I also contact people who leave comments on the Contact Page, via personal email, to discuss their instruments. 

Any of the instruments with tripods are available for hire for movie props, or the like, and can be supplied for the era between about 1840 to 1920. Contact me via the Contact/ Comment button.


"Scientific Instrument Makers and Dealers in Victoria 1840 - 1914" by H.C.Bolton and Nicola H. Williams for providing information on the instrument makers/ dealers of items in my collection.

Olaf Medenbach for his expertise and resources in the manufacture of several replacement compass needles. Olaf is always on the lookout for any mineralogical instruments for sale and can be contacted via his webpage -  http://homepage.rub.de/olaf.medenbach/eng.html

Other Websites of Interest:
www.dehilster.info     Another Private Collection of Survey Instruments.
www.pocket-compass.com   Compass Chronicles - A very informative book by a very interesting lady. This book has proved to be a valuable reference for cataloging and dating my compass collection.
www.compassmuseum.com  An excellent collection of compasses and descriptions, good quality photographs - better than mine. Well put together and worth a look.
www.istahowgeo.3dn.ru  A collection of mainly Russian instruments. See the passion that Stanislav has for geodesy even though he is not in the surveying industry. Use Google to translate the website.
www.surveyantiques.com  A great site for information, sales and restorations.
www.surveyhistory.org Another great site for information, virtual museum, dealers and fraud alerts on replica scientific instruments.
http://www.si.edu/  Smithsonian Institute - many thanks for reference material from the archives History Division and from the Library for scanning documentation pertaining to an early instrument maker.
Dave Riches private collection. Very informative website for drawing instruments, slide rules and mechanical calculators

Yahoo Groups - Surveying and Engineering Stuff Collectors - These guys are passionate about their collections and it is great to see the feed back and input from the members when one of the group purchases another old item for their collection.

Acknowledgement to Museum Victoria for scanning the 1906 Catalogue manual from "La Filotechnica" Ing A Salmoiraghi and Co, Milano
www.Thewildcollection.com.au - an interesting collection of Wild instruments dating from the 1930's. Greg is always on the lookout to add to his collection.

www.CollectingME.com - A Collection of Antique Mathematical Instruments and Engineering Tools

http://www.surveyorshistoricalsociety.com - A group set up to preserve the history of the science of surveying.