Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon arrived in Philadelphia on November 15, 1763. Over the next five years they established locations and boundaries to seconds-of-arc accuracy, a remarkable feat in the Old World and unprecedented in the New. They brought with them two major instruments, both crafted by London’s John Bird, the foremost instrument maker of […]

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Jeffery Lock of Colonial Instruments detail the fabrication of the telescope cradle and tripod John-Bird-Transit-Telescope

One of the enjoyments of performing restorations on early surveying instruments is when the owner has no idea that he is in possession of an extremely rare and/or important historical compass and you have the opportunity to contact them with a pleasant surprise regarding their instrument. One such instrument was uncovered recently after Colonial Instruments […]

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In the Philadelphia History Museum

Jeff and I had the opportunity to examine what may be the earliest known surviving David Rittenhouse tall case clock. David Rittenhouse (1732 – 1796) established his clock trade on the farm in Norriton, PA in 1751. He would have been 19 years of age at the time when he opened his shop.

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Benjamin Cole, London

While performing conservation work on a surveyor’s compass signed, “B. COLE Maker at No 136 Fleet Street LONDON,” I found it necessary to remove the needle ring. Upon close inspection, I discovered a signature stamp, “ B COLE” on the underside of the needle ring. Having never seen a needle ring signed on either English or American Colonial instruments, I disassembled a B. Cole theodolite from an earlier period than the surveyor’s compass. Upon inspection of the bottom side of the needle ring, it was also stamped, “B COLE” in the same manner and measurements as the surveyor’s compass.

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A Masterpiece of Colonial Technology

As a researcher and restorer of 18th century Colonial surveying instruments, I primarily deal with the artistically crafted surveying compass. These instruments often have beautifully executed engraving, combined with technologically advanced workmanship for their generation. They stand out from the later instruments of the mid-19th century where mechanical repetition produced functional instruments devoid of the spark of artistic creativity.

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Some Thoughts On Polishing By Bill Skerritt

When a sculptor creates a bronze, its most important attributes are its form, scale, and surface. Patina is usually applied to enhance the visual effect of the piece and has been used by both eastern and western artists for centuries to impart a sense of age and use.

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