This is just a sample of the many
antique surveying instruments we have sold.
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span a long time and may not reflect current values. Some are selling
for more, many now sell for less.
On other pieces you will see no price, or a price range,
with or without an explanation. The reasons for that are discussed on the FAQ page.
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Co. Solar Transit
w/ George Saegmuller Solar Attachment
This is a rare and unusual solar transit. It is an
expedition size instrument with its main scope just about 7" long. The transit is
double marked with both maker & company names. Under the glass is the name
Fauth & Co. This company was formed in the 1870's between George Saegmuller
and his two brothers in law, Camille Fauth and Henry Lockwood. On the
beveled plate, next to the vernier, it is marked George N. Saegmuller Wash.
DC. This is an unusual feature to be found on any transit, and was very
hard to manufacture and keep in working order.
In later years Saegmuller
bought out both partners, first Mr. Lockwood, and
around the turn of the
century Fauth. Shortly afterward he renamed the company George N.
Saegmuller. I am not sure if this is a transition piece made right near the
turn of the century after he renamed the company, or an earlier instrument made
for Fauth and signed by Saegmuller when he worked as part of Fauth & Co.
George Saegmuller is most famous for his design and patent of the solar
attachment you see. He was granted the patent for this idea in the
1870's. The one pictured came with this instrument, but is housed in its own
box. The box has some damage to the lid, but looks OK. The
optics of the solar attachment are crisp and clear. The eyepiece cap or
right angle piece is missing as can be seen. The overall condition is
The transit has an 7" scope and would be designated as a Expedition model.
The box for the transit is a study in compactness, and there is no way you
could have ever fit the solar attachment in the same box. Being an
expedition size they tried to keep everything as small and compact as
possible to be easier to transport in the field. The transit is factory fitted with a mount on the
top of the scope to accept the solar attachment. Solar
attachments gave the user a very exact way to determine their exact location
using the sun and the horizon. They were especially useful here in the
west or in places where large deposits of minerals or ore could affect the magnetic compass
readings allowing for mistakes in the work being performed.
The mahogany box for the transit shows just a few minor scuffs from
storage. All motions are free and turn as they should. The optics are
perfect and exhibit no cloudiness or other problems. The crosshairs 1
vertical, 3 horizontal, and 2 crossed in the middle are present. The compass
needle works, and measures 2 1/2" long . This is a very rare example
of a desirable solar transit and one I have not seen offered for sale
before. It is an opportunity that will not likely present itself again
for a long time.
Excellent . . . . . . .$4750.00 SOLD!!
Buff Solar Transit w/ Smith Patent Solar Attachment
in Original Box
This unusual Buff solar transit came from the Bureau of Land Management and was used in the Pacific Northwest to check
lines and boundaries on government properties. From the serial #24846 we can surmise this Buff solar transit was manufactured in the 1920's - 1930's
after the breakup of the Buff and Berger company back near the turn of the century. The original firm
of Buff & Berger split into two companies with each principal
going into business with family members of the same name, hence the names, Buff & Buff, and Berger & Sons
on later instruments.
Solar transits were developed so that the user could accurately determine his location without
relying on the compass in the field. Because of magnetic deviations compasses were not an accurate means to determine ones location
in many areas. The idea was
to use the position of the sun and the horizon to determine ones location, much as a sextant or octant would be used to determine ones true location
on a boat in open water with no visible reference points.
There are a number of different versions of solar attachments that were patented and used on
surveying instruments. The Burt solar attachment which was used on Gurley Instruments, and the Saegmuller solar used on K & E instruments being the
most frequently seen. Both of those types mounted on the top of the scope. Smith Patent Solar Attachments
mount on the side of the instrument and are much more unusual.
The instrument has developed a nice even patina. The transits main scope is 9" long which would make this a light mountain size transit. It has an image erect and the optics
are crisp and clear. The silvered compass works and is 4" with a tiny 2" needle.
The silvered vertical circle is 4". All level bubbles are good, and
there are 2 striding levels in the box as well. All motions operate as they should. The serial # on the box and
instrument match. Even the leather strap is original and stamped with the serial # 24846. The box is very nice and has nearly all of its
original finish. The counterweight is a molded piece of lead that is fitted to the opposite
side in such a way to save space and making the box smaller and easier to transport in the field.
This is a rare instrument that will display very nicely and be a highlight of any collection of surveying related instruments.
Good + . . . . . . $2450.00
& Shain Surveyors / Engineers Transit The partnership of Knox
and Shain was begun in the 1850's. The Smithsonian sight says they opened
their shop in 1850, while the bio on them in Smarts says they were first listed
together in the Philadelphia directories in 1855. The serial # on the compass
face is 900. It is not known if this number reflects the date from the beginning
of this partnership, or from the time Knox left the employ of Young and opened his
own shop some years earlier. This transit though has the look and fell of
an instrument that dates from the 1860's to 1880's. The Smithsonian
site mentions that Knox & Shain instruments look similar to Young's transits because
both partners worked for him in the past. The information there goes on to
say they bought the dividing engine of Jesse Ramsden, an early English maker of
surveying and other scientific instruments. .
This surveyor's transit is in good condition. It stands just about
11" tall to the top of the 5" vertical circle which reads to 30 degrees. This transit
is from an era when the leveling base remained with the tripod, which we do not
have. There is no place for it in the box. which is OK. The box
is dirty and has been re-glued where it split at some point in the past but has
a great look and a lot of character.
The compass is a gold finish and works properly. The needle is 5"
and the transit measures approx 7" across. The silvered horizontal vernier
is inside under the glass and operates as it should. All other knobs and motions
are free as well. All three level bubbles are full and appear to be
original. The optics are clear, and it focuses well, but there do not seem
to be any cross hairs if there ever were any.
This Knox & Shain is a very early transit, by a relatively rare
and obscure maker from Philadelphia one of the hubs of early technology manufacturing
in America. This transit will make for a great showpiece on display in the
collection or any other setting.
Good+ . . . . . . .$650.00
& Brightly Transit The serial #
on this super condition Surveyor's transit is 4683, and from the information
available from the Smithsonian's informative site on surveying instruments we
can surmise that this instrument was made in the early 1870's just a few short
years after this company was formed between Charles Heller and Charles Brightly.
The serial # can be found in three separate places, on the inside of the box,
on the lower detachable leveling base, and under the glass of the highly engraved
compass face. From the information found at the Smithsonian's site we
can see that this company started their serial #'s at 4400 which would put this
instrument at the very beginnings of this companies time line.
( see below for the info from that site, and a link to it for further info )
The original condition of this
instrument is second to none, and it is obvious that it has seen little or no
use over the last 130 years. The unusual Mahogany box is nice, noting
that the leather handle has come unattached. This transit also includes a correctly
marked and original tripod, and the correctly marked original plumb bob and
an instruction sheet on setting the instrument up are also included. ( These
are Not Pictured ) The original lacquer finish is near perfect and
all motions are free and smooth. The level vials are all good.
These early transits were hand
built and Heller and Brightly was a small company that produced less than 100
instruments a year in their early days. Note the unique feature of the
leveling base being detachable and fitting into a separate holding position
inside the box. All in all one of the nicest and earliest American transits
that I have had the pleasure of buying. The condition is second to none,
and it will be a long time before another in this condition or this early ever
shows up again on the market.
Good . . . . .$1250.00
Info from the Smithsonian Site
Heller & Brightly
Charles S. Heller (1839–1912) was born in Germany, and
moved with his family to the United States in the late 1840s.
He went to work for William J. Young in 1855, and became
a partner in William J. Young & Co. in 1865. Charles H.
Brightly (1817–1897) was born in England, arrived in the
United States in the 1830s, and worked as a machinist in
Philadelphia before going into partnership with Heller in
1870. Within a few years Heller & Brightly were said to
have "done more than any other [firm] in this country of
late years to increase competition in the trade, and to
wake up the different makers to a sense of the many improvements
that may be made in the instruments in common use." Heller
& Brightly instruments were used in every state in the union,
and in several foreign countries. The firm was incorporated
in 1926, and remained in business until 1968.
Heller & Brightly was a traditional craft workshop. There
were only a few employees at any one time, each could produce
an entire instrument, and each was reasonably well paid.
They produced some 100 instruments per year from 1870 to
1887. Annual production rose to 216 instruments in 1891,
then dropped precipitously and remained at modest levels
thereafter. Each instrument has a serial number, the first
being #4400. Most Heller & Brightly instruments were ordered
directly from the shop, with only a few sold in stores.
Ref: Robert C. Miller, "The Heller & Brightly Records,"
Rittenhouse 4 (1990): 43–55.
Transit w/ Aux. Mining Scope Attachment & Scope w/ Setup for
Solar Attachment This transit dates from just
after the turn of the last century. I have an auxiliary sighting scope
that fits onto the outboard attachment point, but
I am also in the market for the small solar attachment that the top of this
transit is set up to accept. I believe it is a similar looking telescope
affair that is mounted in a U shaped yoke with a center threaded rod that would
go into the fitting visible on the top. It is a female receptacle, and
a different size from the base of the other scope that is present now.
Good . . . . .$1250.00 SOLD
Lietz Co. Light Mountain Transit I believe
that this beautiful little instrument would be considered a Light Mountain Size
Transit, both because of the overall size, and the bayonet or twist lock system
for locking it to the tripod. But it may be their Expedition size
as it is so small, and I have no catalogs to check on this. The
tube measures 7.5 inches long, and the overall height is just about 10" to the
top of the wheel. The optics are clear and crisp as are the 3 crosshairs.
The compass measures just 3" across and works properly. The limb measures
4.5 inches across at this point. The serial # 6220 is written on the compass
face which is black and in perfect condition. The level vials are good
and appear to be original. All of the other knobs and wheels appear to
be working as well. This piece has never been polished and
has a nice even patina. Those portions that were finished in black look
good as well, noting some minor losses to the edges of the wheel. At some
point, a well meaning antique dealer did refinish the box. There are a
series of original labels inside the lid of the box. The mounting
system for the instrument to the tripod is a simple line it up and twist with
no threads to be found. I have given you a series of pics, but if
you need more or have questions simply ask.
Good . . . . .$750.00 SOLD
Bausch & Lomb Light Mountain
Transit Bausch and Lomb had been
in business for many years and were well known in the optics business
before they went into a business partnership with, first, George Saegmuller
in 1905, and then Carl Zeiss in 1907
at which point they also began to produce Surveying instruments, transits
and other engineering instruments. They only manufactured surveying instruments
up until the entry of the United States into the First World War in about 1917
when production stopped. After the war, production of these
sorts lines was never resumed. It seems there was better money making
things for the military and that became their primary focus.
Everything on this small transit
seems to be working nicely, and the optics are clear. It has developed
a nice rich even patina. I believe this transit was made in 1908 from
the chart that gives that information that I was able to find on the internet.
Given the short production span, and the limited number produced, instruments
by these folks are pretty hard to come by. This includes the proper and original collapsible
tripod as well.
Good . . . . .$950.00
Transit w/ Burt Style Solar Attachment This
transit was made by one of the three famous West Coast Surveying Instrument
Makers out of San Francisco During the 19th century. These makers were
William Albert Schmolz, John Roach, and Joseph Charles Sala. Schmolz,
whose working dates were from the mid 1850's until his death in 1891 was the
person first responsible for patenting the idea to adapt the Burt Solar Apparatus
to a transit and was granted a patent for this idea in 1867. Gurley bought
the rights to this idea, and introduced their version around 1874, agreeing
to pay Schmolz $5.00 for each one they sold. This agreement expired in
1884 when the patent became part of the public domain. This instrument
dates from some point after that, as Sala who was born in 1841 and at first
apprenticed to Roach was listed first in San Francisco Directories as Roach's
partner in the 1861 Directory took over the business upon Roach's death in 1891.
This instrument is #934 and was probably made just after the turn of the century.
Sala died in 1916.
This instrument is in an amazing state of preservation. The box is
dovetailed, and has a later Lietz sticker in the top of the lid
The compass face has a green finish and the points are nicely engraved.
There is a half vertical circle, and the vernier is silvered.
The solar attachment is clearly marked Sala, and is basically
identical with the version put out by Gurley.
Good . . . . .$4000.00 SOLD
Zeiser St Louis Transit This transit was made by the little
known and rare maker of surveying instruments who hailed from St Louis just
after the turn of the 20th century. He is not listed in Smarts or at the
Smithsonian site, but there is a brief mention of his name as a maker on one
site on the internet. This example is a nicely done Light Mountain size
with a 9 1/2 inch scope and half circle vernier. The optics are clear
and it has a simple cross for the crosshairs. All motions turn freely
and the vials are full. The compass is functional as well. It has
developed a very nice patina and will display nicely. The serial # is
550. The box seems correct, but the plate it rests on is plywood and may be
a replacement. All in all a nice looking instrument by an obscure and
relatively rare maker.
Good . . . . .$750.00 SOLD
& Brightly Transit w/ Aux. Mining Scope Attachment
Transits set up to take an Auxiliary Scopes for either mining
related work or other precise applications are a unusual configuration. This
style of surveying instrument that was basically used in only one or two specific
applications. They were not widely distributed and thus quite hard to
find. With this example, the transit was made by Heller and Brightly of
Phila. PA., and the scope is unmarked, but I have been told is a Lietz who were
an established West Coast supplier, distributor, and manufacturer of quality
optical equipment and surveying supplies. It is a nice looking instrument.
Good . . . . .$1450.00
L. Makepeace Loxo Combination Transit / Level This small combination
Transit / Level was patented in 1912 and offered for sale after that. The Makepeace
company is still in business and has an long and interesting history that began
in the 1890's. The company began in the blueprint and paper end of the business, expanded
to offer a line of K & E products, and then just after the turn of the century
Mr. Makepeace began offering his own line and design of surveying instruments
including this style instrument.
This combination level transit has seen little use and is in
excellent condition. The box is very nice, and the label inside the lid
is very good as well. The optics are clear, and the crosshairs present.
The level vial is full and all motions turn freely. The bronzed lacquer
finish is near flawless. There is no tripod. This instrument
will make a nice addition to the collection to round out all the types and styles
of instruments that were made and offered or would make for a good user around
the property or building site. It will display very nicely.
Good . . . . .$350.00 SOLD
Negretti & Zambra Transit /
Negretti & Zambra was an English outfit whose origins dates back
into the mid 19th century. This transit / theodolite has an interesting form
with its half circle beneath the scope.
The leather covered mahogany box looks really nice. The box still has nearly
all of its original finish. This instrument was dropped or
handled badly at one point, as I had to re-glue nearly all of the different pieces
inside, and repair a crack in the top where the base was trying to break
through as it was banged around. It looks great now. The theodolite breaks down, and the
different parts are fitted throughout the box as can be seen in the last
photos. There is a bit of damage to two pieces from when it was
shipped. The small aux
magnifier lens, for the vernier, is cracked. Also a piece of the
spring loaded fine adjust beneath the plate
broke off at its attachment point when this was banging around in the box. The
rest is fine, looks great and will display well..
The crosshairs are present,
and the image is inverted. There is a stamp on the side of the scope
indicating that this was made for a firm in Lima Peru. The serial
number is in the 2000 range, but I could find no info that would allow for
dating it. It has a 3 point leveling system, and it has the tripod mounting
plate which is set up to fit in the box and has a quick release feature.
an interesting design that will look fine as part of the display.
Good+ . . . . . .$650.00 SOLD!
Hildebrand Freiberg Surveyors / Engineers Theodolite / Transit This precision Theodolite is by
Hildebrand Freiberg a well know and respected optical instrument maker that was begun in the 18th
century in Germany as Freiberg and evolved and changed names over a period of time to what it is now.
You can visit their present website here.
The name Hildebrand became associated with the company in 1872 and Hildebrand Freiberg company was in
operation until the Russians took control of the plant at the end of WWII. The only place this precision
instrument is marked
with the company name is on the handle of the case. There is also a stylized logo &
number on the instrument itself which probably would help date it for those with access to that info.
This instrument dates from somewhere near the turn of the century up to the time of WWII when the
Russians took over the plant. It is interesting to note the Japanese writing on the outside of the
case and the "military" colored tan finish of the tripod would lead one to believe it was sold to and
used by the Japanese military prior to or during WWII. The instrument itself is in great condition and
is as complete as one could imagine or hope for. All of the level bubbles are good. All of the fitted
holes in the internal carry case / tray are full and this instrument was designed to be locked into the
case on the base to withstand all sorts of travel bumps and abuse. All of the tiny magnifiers over the
vernier scales are present.
There is a striding level, an auxiliary compass, plumb bob, counterweight, and even a small wind up
tape in feet / metric with Japanese writing. The tripod is nice, proper, and the instrument has the
proper 3 point leveling base for it. There are also additional parts and pieces stored on the door,
like an extra eyepiece, sunshade, and right angle eyepiece. The optics are clear and the cross hairs
present. It is a very nice looking and graphic instrument to add to several different focus collections.
Good+ . . . . . .$750.00 SOLD!
& Berger Bevel Limb Transit This is
a rare transit that made the back page of the 1897 Buff & Berger
catalog. It is one of the few American instruments produced with a
beveled vernier at the edge of the plate. The write up in the
catalog explains why the idea did not last long. it was hard and
expensive to produce, and was very fragile. One of but a handful
Fine. . . . .
Light Mountain Size Engineering Transit This small
Transit is in good condition. The scope is 9" long and the vertical circle is
5" Dia. Dietzgen in all of their catalogs I have refer to all of their transits
as being Engineering transits and offered them in 3 or 4 different sizes. This
looks to be a #6024, and the serial # is 22930 dating it from 1936 or so.
This is a nice compact instrument that from the finish on the
box was once part of the military or forest service. The finish is nice
except for the one are on the tube where someone removed the property
of sticker that was once there. The optics are crisp, and the cross hairs
are a matrix like setup with several intersections of vertical, horizontal, and
diagonal lines. It will display nicely, or after a calibration make a
Good . . . . .$450.00
Bostrom #4 Transit
/ Level This small combination Transit / Level is
in good condition. It is a precision but simple instrument that was offered
for general layouts and lines by large concerns like Sears, Montgomery
Wards or other outfits that sold surveying instruments for general use.
This style of surveying instrument are sometimes referred to as Farm levels
This one is unmarked as to maker but is a Bostrom. I would estimate
it dates from the 40's or so. As can be seen half of the box is present.
There is no tripod. It will make for a good general user, or a nice
display piece on the shelf.
Good . . . . .$95.00
Fennel / Kassel Builders Transit / Level This is a quality transit / level made by the well
known German firm Fennel / Kassel. The box is marked West Germany which would date this as post WWII.
It looks a lot like the David White Builders transit I use to use for general layout, corners, and grades.
This instrument is set up much the same with a positive lock for the level / grade function, and
just one level vial below the scope to set up. Everything about the transit is nice, and
I believe it is ready to go back to work. The box needs a new clap / latch, but is otherwise OK.
It takes a standard 3 1/2 x 8 tripod.
Good . . . . .$150.00 SOLD
Lietz / San Francisco CA Light Mountain Size Transit This small Transit
is in good condition. It dates from the 30's or so. The box is
nice, and the tripod is included.
Good . . . . .$450.00 SOLD
Transit / Level This small combination Transit / Level is
in good condition. It is a simple style of instrument that was offered for general
layouts and lines by large concerns like Sears, Montgomery Wards or other
outfits that sold surveying instruments for general use. It has a sticker
identifying it as being sold by Sears. I would estimate it dates
from the 40's or so. It will make for a good general user, or a
nice display piece on the shelf.
Good . . . . .$95.00 SOLD
This is just a sample of the many
antiques & collectibles we have sold.
Click link to see other
Sales Archive Pages on this Site.
We can help you sell quality Antiques
For further info on consigning / selling your antiques
with us please see our FAQ page,
Appraisal / Selling Page and the
Your Collection Pages.
Our current offering of
Antiques for sale are at our sister Website Patented-Antiques.com.
This website is Copyrighted
(1998 - 2015)
Larry & Carole Meeker