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- S -


Angelo Salmoiraghi was an Italian engineer. He was the successor of Ignazio Porro and head of the Italian manufacturer and retailer of optical and survey materiel FILOTECNICA (Via Raffaello Sanzio no. 5 in Milan) created by the latter in 1865 (source: Other compass types are known (gimballed model). See also the driftmeter in the article DALOZ (aeronautical compasses).


Former French manufacturer located 31, rue Monge - Paris (5e), founded in 18.. (?) by Joseph-Louis Sanguet (born July 8, 1848 in Aigueblanche, Savoie /died End of July 1921). Sanguet invented several Instruments like the longimeter (or tachometer) below. (Lit. in Engl: Memorandum on the self-reducing sanguet tachometer as adapted to precision levelling in connection with a new rod - reprint 1986 by R. Steckel). Comprehensive list of inventions (in French) on the Géomusée's website.
Portrait by courtesy of the family's private archives
This compass is fitted into a fine mahogany case. It can be fixed to the top of a tripod, or just laid on a map. The compass itself has a transparent capsule. The instrument also includes a clinometer and an alhidade. Compare with Miss Dupuy's system.

Picture by courtesy of Peter Abbenollet
(Click on images for enlarged views)

Technical Data (compass)
- Dimensions (case): 4 ½ inch sides / 112 x 112mm
- Dia. (compass): 3 ¾ inches / 95 mm
- Divisions: 400 grads

Pic. of Sanguet products courtesy Géomusée
User Instructions
(published in the Ponthus et Therrode catalogue for 1900)

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SCHABLAß (Schablass)

Joseph Schablass was an Austrian maker of scientific instruments located in Vienna (Wien in German) in the early 19th C. His full name appears on other instruments like rulers featuring various units.

(Click on the images and links for enlarged views)
Technical Data
- Dimensions (base plate and sights): 234 x 135 x 112 mm, sights cannot be folded
- Bar needle: 90 mm long
- Divisions : counter-clockwise, cardinals swapped east-west, 360° (precision 1/2 degree) and 24 h, divided into 1/3, 1/15 and 1/30. The capsule can be rotated and its position secured by a screw.
- Engraved magnetic deviation (8° 50' 19'' - date?) opposite to Nord.
Transit lock: side lever.
Back side: Removable rotatable adapter for tripod
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Charles Augustus Schmalcalder was a German-born optician and instrument maker (more information HERE). Compasses consistent with his patent for a prismatic system were built by several manufacturers (see also Jones).
He worked from 1806 to 1840. 1810 -1826 at 82 Strand, and 1827 - 1840 at 399 Strand. He had two sons, John, who worked 1841 - 1845 at different addresses to his father, and Joseph who worked 1830 - 1831 at 399 Strand (Source: Gloria Clifton)
Picture at right: item manufactured in the shop at 82 Strand (courtesy TML - Click on image to view dial)
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Former German manufacturer located in Berlin, Wilhelmstr. 48 - Mathematical and survey instruments, theodolites, tachymeter, drawing tools, measuring instruments.
(Quoted from the Directory of living physicists, mathematicians and astronomers by Fr. Strobel, Leipzig, 1905).

Picture at right: a cylindrical cross staff head made by S. & V
(Photograph by courtesy of Hendrik Niztschke - click to enlarge)

Compass with folding vane (apparently the rear part of the sighting device is missing on this item).

Technical Data
- Dimensions: ... mm
- Divisions: 360°

Signature on the horizontal arm:

(Click on the pictures for enlarged views)
Pictures by La-Belle-Collection

Signature on cover:

(Click on the picture for a detailed view)

The capsule is made of two glass disks: the upper one with a red line is a bezel and can be locked with a lateral screw. The lower one bears the divisions (0 - 180°). The needle's tips are bent upwards.

Technical Data
- Dimensions: 94 x 70 x 20mm
- Divisions: 2 x 180°, no cardinal points
- Weight: 230gr
- Transit lock: automatic when closing
- Double-sided metallic cover


Theodor Schwabe (ФЕДОР ШВАБЕ) was the founder of a Russian company, located Kuznetskiy Most (Кузнецкий мость, Kuznetzkiy Bridge, link to pic of an hygrometer, courtesy M. Ivanov) in Moscow, now renamed UOMZ / YOM3. See picture at right featuring the Czar's imperial eagle. Link to a pic. of the 1889 catalogue.
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SECRÉTAN (see also Lerebours)

Former French company (for more information click HERE). The drawings are copies from catalogues dating back to the early 20th c. (see also cross staff).


Surveyor's cross staff head
(octagonal form)

Item with French cardinal points.
See a dial in Dutch language under MISCELLANEOUS / Cardinal points 

Picture above: Secrétan catalogue early 20th C. This item also appears in a Casella catalogue. Surveyor's instrument used to determine right angles. It was available with a cylindric, hexagonal or spherical body, sometimes topped by a compass. MORIN wrote that they only produced such instruments with cylindrical body because of their higher precision.  

Technical Data
- Dim.:  2.5  x 2.5 x 6 3/8 inch (65x65x162mm)
- Weight (approx.): 1.5 lb. (700 gr)
- Sighting: The slots are equipped with horse hair reticles attached with screws.

For more details, visit the GÉOMUSÉE's website (see address in LINKS)

Compasses with folding sights.
- The sights can be folded flat on the glass or swivelled sideways
- With or without lid.


Very sensitive and precise instruments used for aligning land surveyors' plane tables.

(Picture by LEVECHER - Click for enlarged view)
Technical Data
- Dimensions: 215 x  110 x 28 mm
- Weight: 465 g
- Material: Mahogany
- Graduations: +/- 30°
- Transit lock: actuated by the closing of the lid.
- Manufacturing period: 19th century

(Click on pictures for enlarged view)
Technical Data
- Dimensions: 154 x 40 x 15 mm
- Weight: 110 gr
- Material: Bakelite
- Needle lock: lever at one end of the case.
- Manfufacturing period: ca. 1930

French Artillery Level called "sitomètre"

This device is an artillery level. It is also called sitogoniomètre because it combines a sitometer and a compass. This device is used to aim pieces of artillery (setting of the elevation angle) at a target. It was invented in 1910 by Gilbert GARNIER, a French officer (1874-1964) while working at the weapons plant Ateliers de Puteaux (APX).  The integrated mini-compass has no tactical value, some levels don't have any.
Description and use: see 'Note Technique' J.39469 35, issued by the Ministère de la Guerre (French War Department) July 16, 1929 (copies in French can be ordered).
A short description and user's instruction is also to be found in MORIN's catalogue (see copy in the French article).
Compare with the Swiss Army's devices KERN RECTA 85 and BÜCHI.

Sitomètre Modèle (Mle) 1911 designed for the French 75 mm cannon (model 1897).

The upper window is the light entrance for the scales
(Click on the images for enlarged views)
There were four different models vith various azimut scales (seen through the large viewer):
two in angular mils (500 and 800), one in grades (1000) and a special one in 553 mils to measure the ammunition's side drift when shooting. Figures in top row in mils


Elevation scale as seen through the small square viewer located at the left end on the casing's side
Divisions range on right hand scale:
This instrument must be held verticaly by the lanyard holder. The bubble shows the horizontal line.
Longitudinal cut view showing the internal structure. Drawings: Note Technique (1929) and MORIN catalogue (1930)

(Click on image for enlarged view)
Technical data
- Dimensions: 63 x 41 x 8 mm
- Weight: 40 gr
- Table on back:
• left col.: range of the 75 mm cannon (1-6km)
• center col.: elevation angle
• right col.: parallax
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Miner's compass (signed by SECRETAN)

For a description of the complete system, i.e. tools and the case, go to MINERS' COMPASS.
The transit lock is the big knurled knob at the underside (pic. below). By turning it half a rotation, it pushes the magnetic needle upwards against the glass. On some models, the magnetic deviation can be taken into account by means of the smaller knurled knob on the side. It rotates the chapter ring. A needle's sharp end attached opposite to the letter N points then to the Magnetic North. A (missing) protection plate could be attached by two screws to the case rim.

(Click on the pictures for enlarged views)

Technical Data
- Dimensions (overall, gimbal): 240 x 170 mm
- Diameter: 150 mm
- Weight: 1200 gr
- Divisions: 360 deg
- Precision: 0.5 deg

(Pictures at left)
Top: magnetic deviation indicator needle
Bottom: the two knobs. The bigger one is the transit lock.

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SEMIONOFF - Kомпас Семёнова

Light artillery compass (компас артиллерийского техника Семёнова). See also wrist compasses


Japanese company located in Tokyo created in 1962. 

Pictures Dr. Spielberg & Jaypee 

Click on the images for enlarged views
Technical Data
- Dimensions: 98 x 65 x 20 mm
- Compass Dia.: 65 mm
- Weight: 216 g
- Levels: two tubes
- Divisions: 4 x 90 deg.
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S-L (Société des Lunetiers) / SLOM

Former French company (for more information click HERE).
SLOM: survey products made by the group comprising the companies Société des Lunetiers and Société d'Optique et de Mécanique de Haute-Précision (cited in the optical and precision industry directory 1958).
S-L's product range covered almost the whole spectrum of survey equipment and not only pocket compasses (see this category). Many items may in reality have been manufactured by SECRÉTAN or HOULLIOT but it is no longer possible to find out today.
This bakelite version of the famous système du général Peigné also appeared in the French major retailer's catalogue Manufrance. S-L also manufactured the famous Model 1922.
See also the BURNIER system.

Description in the Manufrance catalogue
Technical Data
- Material: bakelite
- Ruler: 170 mm
- Lid locking by means of a notched double pin and a spring-loaded piston
- Divisions: 360 degrees
- Instructions for use: white cardboard, with wood models identical
SLOM's version featured a protective paint (just  like CHAIX's theodolite). All data had been re-written and the manual was printed on a sheet of aluminun.
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This instrument was built in France in the late 19th c. and was used until WWI. It resembles in some way the sitomètres produced by BÜCHI and LEMAIRE. The main difference remains in the device for aiming at objects and measuring elevation angles in the shape of two small sighting and viewing tubes. This item is said to comprise (but we have no evidence) a table of some French cities with their latitude just like the older sundials (dyptychs). We were told that this table can be observed through a tiny hole below the transit loop. This instrument features on one side:
- a rectangular window in which the value of the azimuth angle shown by the compass card can be read by means of a prism,
- two tiny tubes which build the clinometer:
In one of them is a reticle (crosshair) like the Chinese compass displayed above while the other is a display of the elevation angle shown by the measuring unit (probably a wheel like the German compass above). We unfortunately don't know in which unit (percentage or degrees).

NOTE: Parts of the description above and the pictures below were sent by a friendly visitor. We would be very grateful if some collector possessing such a compass in working order would contact us and help completing this entry. Many thanks in advance.

The ruler (with divisions from 0 to 6, pic. at r.) allows direct measuring of distances on the old French military maps whose scale was 1:80,000) with a precision of 50m (compare with the ROSSIGNOL compass above).

The compass card
(Click to enlarge)

It is secured when not in use. Free movement is only possible when the push-button beside the square window is depressed.

Angle values can be read in the small side window through a prism.

Technical Data
- Case: copper (?)
- Dimensions: 80 x 41 x 17 mm
- Weight: ? gr
- Ruler: 1:80,000 scale (6km), precision 50m

The clinometer window
Text at right reads:
(overall slope angle)

Elevation angles can be measured by placing the compass in a vertical plane. To this purpose, a slot located along the ruler serves as an aiming aid (sight line).

Simplified version of a later model made by Houlliot between the world wars. The rose of winds printed on a paper disc is identical to the one of the pocket compass. This instrument doesn't feature a device to measure the elevation angles.

Technical Data
- Dim. of Bakelite casing: 58 x 40 x 17mm,
- Reading of angle values via mirror and lens
- Optical sighting aid: Stanhope-type lens with an engraved Mils scale on the flat end (pics. at l.).
Dimensions :  Ø < 3 x 7mm
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Former British compass maker.
"Spencer, Browning & Rust were optical and mathematical Instrument Makers who worked from 327 Wapping High Street (1784-97), 66 Wapping (1797-1840) London. A partnership between William Spencer, Samual Browning and Ebenezer Rust who were all apprentices to Richard Rust."
Cited after Banfield : BAROMETER MAKERS AND RETAILERS 1660 - 1900 (more information HERE).
England, early 19th century

Technical Data
Markings in dial: Spencer Browning & Rust, London
- Case and lid material: copper
- Diameter: 124 mm
- Depth (with tripod fitting): 48 mm
- Depth (compass alone): 18 mm
- Weight (without lid): approx. 1.3 kg
- Weight (lid): 315 gr
- Divisions: counter-clockwise, 360 degrees and quadrants.

SPERLING / Шперлингъ

Former Russian compass maker located in Saint-Petersburg.

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Ed. SPRENGER Optische-Mechanische Werkstätten, Berlin, was a German manufacturer of optical measuring instruments like theodolites. During WWII his secret code was cln (no other information momentarily available). This compact system was also manufactured (later?) by the Swiss STOPPANI who simplified the crystal's securing system (one ring, 3 fittings and 6 screws!). Compare to MEISSNER.
Right: a special version of the compass in which the cut-away card is driven by a two-bars magnetic needle.

Technical Data
- Dimensions: 90 x 80 x 20mm
- Weight: 300 gr
- Divisions: 360 deg., counterclockwise
- Precision: 1 deg.
- Material: aluminium

Click on the images for enlarged views
Stoppani vs. Sprenger:

In the Wichmann catalogue (same model, below), it says that the two bars are floats sustaining the magnetic needle in order to reduce the friction on the pivot.  Here, the floats seem to be part of the magnetic device.

Pictures by courtesy of Chr. Heyden
Fluid dampened version

Descr.: go to WICHMANN below.

The pouch has a separate compartment for storing the adapter to a tripod.
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Former Czechchoslovakian company created in 1919. See also SP (SŠP) marching compass.
Address: SRB A ŠTYS PRAHA, ODŠTĚPNÝ ZÁVOD, Praha 5. Became part of MEOPTA after WWII. Optics and survey materiel.
The instrument at right was used in the Czech Army (pic. at r. by courtesy of Lissy).


See Showa Sokki


Former British company, 1902-1998. The first address was Great Turnstile Holborn London (more information HERE).
Not to be confused with the retailer STANLEY LONDON (the link to his web site his dead but it is still in Facebook) who signed a widespread fancy reproduction of the famous BRUNTON pocket transit compass.  See also marching compasses.

Schmalcalder-type compasses

Pic. courtesy W. Sayers
Technical Data
- Dimensions: ? mm
- Case material: brass
Below: Catalogue (flyer) 1960's
(facsimile of the complete document available)

Cross staff head

Pic. courtesy Gr. Innes
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J. H. Steward Ltd was a British manufacturer (more information HERE). See also nautical, marching, wrist and pocket compasses.
Trough compass (also called "plane table compass") for military usage. A patent was filed by Captain (item no. 13,  later Major, item no. 28) DIXONS but it was probably not issued or abandonned (marking: Prov. Patent, no known year, maybe during the Boer War).

Model signed Captain Dixons' military compass, item no. 13

Picture by courtesy of S. Wiggins

Model signed Major Dixons' military compass, item no. 28
NOTE: The needle tips movements had damaged the paint which was repaired later.

Technical Data
- Dimensions : 75 x 37 x 14 mm
- Casing: brass
- Glass bottom

(Click on the images for enlarged views)

STOLIAROVI / Столяровы

Compass made by the brothers Stoliarovi of Sanit Peterburg (Бр. СТОЛЯРОВЫ). NOTE: The cardinals are written in German.
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Stoppani is a Swiss manufacturer created in 1913 and located in Bern (see design is identical to SPRENGER's instrument.

Technical Data
- Dimensions: 95 x 82 x 18 mm
- Weight (w/o case): 580 gr
- Case material: brass. Vanes fold into side slots.
- Transit lock: a big flat head screw
- Box material: light wood lined with felt
- Divisions: 400 grades counter-clockwise.
- Ruler: 70 mm
Stoppani vs. Sprenger:

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STREET, Thomas

Thomas Street (1829-1880, mathematical instruments maker, 30/39 Commercial Rd., London) was an optician and associate of Troughton and Simms.

Technical Data
- Dimensions (L x h x dia.): ... x ... x
- Tube levels: 2
- Case material: brass
- inner chapter: quadrants,
- external chapter: 360 deg. , clockw.


See this manufacturer's website.


Johann Gotthelf STUDER (21 July 1763 in Reichenbach - 29 April 1832 in Dresde) was a German engineer (Mechanikus) and manufacturer. He produced several types of Instruments in his shop in Freiberg (Saxony) between 1791 and approx. 1809. He became later coin maker (Münzmeister) in Dresde. An advertisement was published in 1795 in which it was said that he had studied in London. As far as the miners compasses are concerned, he improved them by introducing the rotating chapter, the transit lock and a higher precision of divisions (see pt. 2 in the original text in German).

Pictures by courtesy of the Norwegian Mining Museum, Kongsberg
(Click for enlarged views)

The magnetic declination engraved was already no longer actual at the time the compass was made.
Technical Data
- Dimensions: 197 x 119 x 26 mm
- Compass dia.: 110 mm
- Material: messing
- Graduation: twice twelve hours counter-clockwise, subdivided in 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 and 1/16, i.e. 96 units per right angle (see in the menue MISCELLANEOUS / Divisions / Hours) and compare with ROSPINI.
- Declination arrow: 1 h 1/4 West (18° 45'), corresponding to the value of the magnetic declination in central Europe about 1790.

Surveyor's Compass (France, early XIXth C.)

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- T -


Tacheometer - Theodolite

A tacheometer is like a theodolite with an additional distance measuring device (techn. descr. in French HERE).
Antique intruments displayed here: Ladois, Keuffel & Esser, Morin (pic. at right - click for enlargement).

Visit also the web site


Claude François TACHET (274, rue Saint Honoré, Paris) produced precision and mathematical instruments since the middle of the 19th c.

Picture by courtesy of S. Whitwick    


TAMAYA was a Japanese retailer of survey tools and instruments located in Tokyo. A catalogue dated 1910 (link to online flipbook - Note: the content begins on p. 16 of the search machine) listed several unusual compasses like the Verschoyle and a miner's hanging compass.


The French company Tavernier-Gravet  was the last successor of several makers. The first one and creator of the workshop was Etienne Lenoir (1744-1832), engineer to the King of France, well-known maker of scientific instruments. The successors were first his son Paul-Etienne, later Gravet (ca. 1827) and at last Tavernier (ca. 1867). Tavernier-Gravet is primarily famous for their slide rules but also for this unique surveyor's compass. The company was created in Paris in 1770 and was active until the 1970s (source photocalcul). This compass was invented by the French colonel GOULIER (link to catalogue picture).

(Click on images for enlarged views)
Technical Data
- Dim. mahogany case: 3 x 2¼ x 1" / 75 x 55 x 25 mm
- Compass: Ø 30 mm, divisions 360°, figures mirrored, needle curved upwards, capsule concave, lubber line offset (link to pic)
- Sighting through prism (link to pics)
- User instructions engraved on brass plate
- Silver-coated plate for notes under the lid, with a circle and hairline cross
- Fitting for plane table
- Make: c.1890


TEL-A-COMPASS was a company located in Goshen, N.J. Only information available is the designation INSTANT POSITIONER (link to pic.) engraved together with the name and address on the bottom plate.


TEL-A-COMPASS was a company located in Goshen, N.J. Only information available



THOMMEN (link to the website) is a Swiss manufacturer of aeronautical instruments. There exists also a light survey compass featuring this name on the rotating card (see pic. at left) but it is a German product called MERIDIAN PRO made by Kasper und Richter (K&R).
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Definition : see MISCELLANEOUS / Terminology - Glossary. See other examples in the following chapters: Plane table, MORIN, RICHER, SECRETAN, STEWARD.
One of the oldest known is a version designed during Napoleon's Empire (no maker's mark).
Explanation of the symbols (angel and caducea) above in the entry 'Surveyor's compass'.

(Click on images for enlarged views)

Very heavy and precise unsigned instrument probably made by the Swiss maker Kern,  1880?

Technical Data
- Dim.: 210 x 50 x 25 mm
- Length of needle: 155 mm
- Weight: approx. 700 g
- Divisions: +/- 13°, precision: 0,5°
- Mirrors at each end under the divisions und the needle ends.
- Engraved in the box at the south side (serial no.?):
" N: 3 " 

Russian trough compasses are called OBK / OБK (link to pic) - Ориентир-Буссоль Кипрегеля (pronounce Orienteer-boossol Kipregelya) using the German word Kippregel meaning alidade (pic of model MEHAN made by Breithaupt) in French and English (link to website about antiques). The user instructions for the ARSENAL model below indicates the abbrev. OBK but the 3rd word is Геодезической (geodesic).

Marking "Made in USSR" and logo of IPZ 
Click on pics for more views

Manufacturer: Арсенал / Arsenal

Manufacturer: IPZ /
Изюмский приборостроительный завод

Modern metallic instrument of unknown origin but most probably German

Technical Data
- Dimensions: 140 x 21 x 13 mm
- Weight: 87 gr
Military instrument made by an unidentified manufacturer - probably in Austria. Trough compass for optical sights. The picture at right shows one item installed in an artillery theodolite.

Theodolite (or aiming circle) made by CARL ZEISS, reused by the Czech armed forces.
Technical Data
- Dimensions: 75 x 21 x 12 mm
- Weight: 35 gr


Troughton, dia. 3". Schmalcalder-type compass. More infos on the website MUSEUM VICTORIA.
Picture by courtesy of Nick Godridge

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- U -


The Russian manufacturer UOMZ / YOM3 made in the past survey compasses. They produce now only modern equipment (read the company's history on their own website). See also WRIST compasses.


Very unusual instrument marked US ARMY but divided into 400 grads counter-clockwise and featuring cardinals in German language (O = OST = east) permuted like on the Brunton compass (see the tutorial in the links).
Click on the image for an enlarged view of the dial  


 Abbreviation of the United States Geological Survey (Department of the Interior). Read the history on their website. We display here a compass used by Arnold HAGUE (1840-1917). Ask for more information about A. HAGUE.
Techn. Data - 3 ¾" side length, 3 ¼" dia., needle: 2 ¼" lg. (manufacturer: probably Gurley, 1870?)
The U.S.G.S. publishes maps with quadrangles. See examples of special compasses made by LEUPOLD with Townships plats.
Picture courtesy Brian Guthrie - Click on the image for an enlarged view

U.S. Topographical Engineers

Schmalcalder-type compass made by James Green N.Y. marked U.S. Topogl. Engrs (Topographical Engineers). They were part of the Army, West Point grads and called the "Topogs".  They were scientifically highly skilled men and mapmakers, trained in advanced mathematics, surveying, astronomy.  The first to map much of the American West after Lewis & Clarke. During the Civil War, compasses (like this one) were used by both Union and Confederate engineers.  A Topog draw quick sketches while on horseback showing the topography, layout, roads, stands of trees, etc. while reconnoitering an area and bring it to the commanding general in the field. Source: J. Armstrong.
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- V -

VEB Geophysikalischer Gerätebau Brieselang

Former state-owned manufacturer in the communist East-Germany (GDR) located in Brieselang near Berlin. It was created in 1949 by the Soviet Union in order to stop engineers fleeing the country. The company name means "Manufacturer of geophysical materiel". (Concerning the abbreviation VEB go to MISCELLANEOUS/ Terminology). It produced mainly electronics. It was re-founded in 1992 after the end of the communist era. The company's current name is Gerätetechnik Brieselang GmbH.
This Instrument was a subassembly of the system called "Feldwaage" (field scale), which was produced between 1962 and 1968. It was used to measure anomalies of the earth's magnetic field for mining prospection. About 1.200 items were produced, among which 700 for China. (Source: Werner Deuschle, form. Head of the VEB).

Pictures courtesy Lothar Freund 
(Click for enlarged views)

Technical data
- Dia. dial: 90 mm
- Dia. casing: 110 mm
Divisions: 400 grads (gon), counter-clockwise

Stamp of the quality assurance department  (Gütekontrolle) on the base
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William Denham Verschoyle was a mining engineer from Seattle, county of King, Washinton. He invented this system patented in 1905. According to the Canadian patent, he was living in Shanghai, China. The instrument was built by TYCOS / Short & Mason.
It was at the same time an Abney level and a prismatic compass with clinometer.
Pict. at right: Pat. numbers and maker's names    

Pictures: excerpt of the user instructions
(Click for enlarged views)
Technical data
Dimensions (folded)
- L x B x H: 4 38 x 3 ½ x 1 "
(112 x 89 x 25mm)
- L extended: 5 ½ " (140mm)
- Dia. of needle: 2 ¾ " (70mm)
- Weight: 16 ozs / c. 500 gr
Compass divisions: unknown
Link to drawings (GB patent)
At r.: Japanese TAMAYA catalog (1910)
(Copies of the user instr. and the GB, USA and CAN patents available)

Pictures courtesy 'Jodi'
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Former French company (for more information click HERE). See also nautical and aeronautical compasses

Plane table compass

Mirror in lid, foldable front and rear sighting aids

Lid hinge and front sighting aid
Technical Data
- Dim.: 115 x x mm
- The compass is a standard WWI French directrice-type made by HOULLIOT (diam.: mm)
- Screws for attaching on a plane table

Military light-weight compass. It is protected against shocks by a thick soft rubber casing. Compare with the nautical OPTICOMPAS made by Morin/SRPI.
Sighting through the lens and the erected vane

Top view: the magnifying lens

(Click on images for enlarged views)
Technical Data
- Divisions: 6400 mils
- Dia.: 3 3/8 inches / 85mm
- Height: 1 1/8 inch / 35mm (3 in. / 75mm vane erected)
- Weight : 4ozs / 130gr
- Model designation: MINI


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Johann Christoph Voigtländer (b. 1732 in Leipzig - d. June 27, 1797 in Vienna) was a German compass maker. He is known to have been working in Vienna as early as 1755. His youngest son Johann Friedrich Voigtländer created in 1808 a shop for optical instruments. He founded a subsidiary in Brunswick, Lower-Saxony (Germany) in 1849. In 1956, the company was sold to the Carl Zeiss foundation which took also over Zeiss Ikon. Voigtländer closed on Aug. 4, 1971.
Source: WIKIPEDIA (German).  The Brunswick plant built compasses for the artillery in the early 19th c.

Original compass, signed

(Photo transmitted by a visitor
priv. coll.)
Survey compass, late 19th c. unsigned but probably made by the Vienna shop

Technical Data
Side length: 125 mm
- Depth: 18 mm
- Weight: 700 gr
- Divisions: 360 deg., clockwise
- Material: Messing
Rectangular miner compass with double graduation: 360 degrees and 24 hrs counter clockwise

(Click on image for enlarged view of signature - pic. courtesy M. Vavro)

Unsolved engraving at one end:
Obbst. Nr. 11

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Artillery compass, WWI
Technical Data
Dimensions: 102 x 80 mm
- Diameter: 60 mm
- Depth (sights upright): 75 mm
- Weight: 280 gr
- Divisions: 6400 MILS, counterclockwise
- Ruler: 100 mm
- Material: Brass, blackened

This compass type was built by several manufaturers like PLATH (Hamburg) an HILDEBRAND (Freiberg/Sachsen).
Artillery compass, WWI (unsigned)

Technical Data
(see above)

- Pouch: cardboard and linen

Same model as above. Engraved in the corners, the abbr. M.W.B (Minenwerferbataillon, mine launcher bataillon) and the figures: 6. (l.) and 3. (r.).


PROFILE - This instrument is probably identical to the one marked xbk made in the former Czechoslovakia by MEOPTA.
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- W -


PROFILE - George Washington (1732-1799), the 1st president of the U.S., worked about 3 y. as a surveyor when he was 16-19. He maybe laid down the system of plats for the new territories (see LEUPOLD). He was interested in surveying during his whole life and utilized instruments made by RITTENHOUSE (click on link to see the picture of an engraved compass).
Picture at right: G. Washington working as a surveyor

Wellbore compass

Special device placed in a cylinder in the borehole behind the drill bit and that can record the magnetic orientation of the rocks layers and the tilt of the bore.

Pictures by courtesy of Chr. Schwab and Jaypee

Click on the images for enlarged views

View of the device partly dismantled

The timer

Drawing of an instrument featuring a camera for real-time observation. The tilt angle is indicated by the position of a ball in curved grid.
Technical Data
- Dia.: approx. 2" / 50mm
- Length: approx. 8" / 200mm
- Weight: 1.543 kg
- Serial no. (?): 4288

The divisions of the tilt indicator under the compass

WESTBERG W. (B. вестбергъ)

Compass maker of Saint Petersburg (former Russian Empire), probably from Germany. The wording is in cyrillic letters but in a typical German Gothic fonts.
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PROFILE - James WHITE (1824-1884), 18, Cambridge Street, Glasgow, supplied scientific instruments for William Thomson (later baron KELVIN of Largs). He founded in 1850 the firm James White Ltd. WHITE and KELVIN 1911 produced in 1911 the first aeronautical sercice compass called Pattern 200.


German retailer of stationary and measuring instruments (Gebrüder Wichmann m.b.H., Berlin). The compasses were made (among other companies) by SPRENGER and a predecessor of FPM Holding. (see also cross staff).

Schmalcalder-type compass

Technical Data
- Diameter: 75 mm
- Depth (capsule): 16 mm
- Weight: 285 gr
- Manufactured approx. 1920-30
Compass made by E. SPRENGER (check this maker).

Technical Data
- Dim. : 95 x 95 mm
- Description in German in the catalogue (click on image at left)
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Swiss manufacturer (for more information click HERE.)
The compass model NT1 was used together with a theodolite. It was manufactured from 1939 until 1956. A spare point was also carried in a special compartment in the leather case. This item was sold by the French optician GAMBS (click on the links to see the relevant objects).

Compass Model NT1

The transit lock screw is
located beneath the capsule.

The retailer's logo:
GAMBS / Lyon

Technical Data
- Height : 800 mm
- Diameter : 850 mm
- Weight : 280 g
- Divisions: 400 grades
- Precision: 1/3rd grade
- Crystal: ground-glass screen

WILD compass (catalogue)

Reading: 37°,3
Count the number of dashes between the first figure at left in the lower row (30) and the first figure at right in the upper row (210), i.e. 7 in this example. The tenth value can be assessed by means of the relative position of one of the divisions in the upper row between two divisions in the lower row, here approx. 3/10.
Double prismatic compass
(see also aiming circle)

Technical Data
- Diameter: 93 mm
- Height: 137,5 mm
- Weight: 820 gr
- Divisions: degrees or grades
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WILKIE (Wilhelm Kienzler)

Former German company (for more information click HERE). In the 1960's, there was a tight cooperation with the other two compass manufacturers of the vicinity (Fürth und Nürnberg) and the catalogues of C. Stockert, PASTO and Wilkie were similar in respect to form and content.
Compare with K & R - See also the categories Nautical, Pocket, Wrist-top and Marching compasses.

Model 111 L

These two models were 1st described in the 1965 catalogue.

Model MERIDIAN PRO with adjustable prism and fluid-filled thermoelastical capsule

Prismatic compass (1960's) with double manufacturer indication: ORIGINAL WILKIE along the West-East-line on the crystal (like the BÉZARD marching compasses) and
WILKIE W. Germany on the card.
Military version for NATO, 2010 : go to ESCHENBACH.

Technical Data
- Dimensions: 99 x 63 x 30 mm
- Weight: 210 gr
- Box level
- Inclination meter with percentage and gradient scale
- Conversion tables for mils/degrees, percentage/gradient and width/distance (sticker, black on white).
- Material of case and lid: blackened metal

Model 110 P (MERIDIAN)

At right: the dial of the Turkish version (bezel is missing)

- Dimensions and weight: as above
- Lensatic system.
- Reading precision: see pic. above.

At right: the table of the Turkish version
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Picture at right: User Instruction (click on image for view of excerpt. Total scope: 23 steps - full copy available)

Franz WINTERER was an Austrian officer (for more information click HERE).
He developed four different compass models. The models I and II shown here were for military use. Two smaller ones are described in the category Marching Compasses.
A similar system was patented in Italy a few years later by Fernando SCHLACHT.

Three are based on the Patent  no. 117.354 (May 1929, Austria - see copy in the section Marching compasses)
He wrote at least three books:
Orientierung im Gelände mit Karte, Kompass und Höhenmesser (Leipzig, 1931)
Winterer-Bussolen für Zivil und Militär (2nd Title: Der militärische Gebrauch der Winterer-Bussolen, Wien 1936)
Karten- und Bussolenfibel (not dated but the book comprises an overview of the hiking maps for Austria in 1954).

This exhibit is a Model II export item for Italy. It bears following markings on the lid:
- R. ESERCITO ITALIANO (Royal Italian Army)
- BREVETTO (Italian Patent no.) 348575
- L'AUTARCHIA Prod.Esclus.Comm.V LA BARBERA - ROMA (model name: AUTARCHIA - exclusively marketed by V. LA BARBERA, ROME).
The sighting is done using either the V-shaped notch on the short end of the rifle-type sight's rear part (which can be erected by 90 degreees) or the slot on the long end. The front sight element is a thin blade screwed onto the mirror's lower rim (in line with the slot). The other end of this blade fits into a groove on the upper face of the casing. In the capsule is a transparent disk with the words LETTURA CARTOGRAFICA (map inscriptions) on a West-East axis (the German version of this compass reads KARTENSCHRIFT). This is similar to the transversal wording on the Bézard compasses. These words must be placed parallel to the place names on the map so that the compass rose's North-South axis is parallel to the map's meridian lines. The capsule ist therefore transparent. On the rear face is a red grid (squares of 5 mm side length).
The leather pouch has a level in a green metallic tube attached to a metallic plate on which following text is written: PER CARTE TOPOGRAFICHE (for survey maps).
Both ends of this plate have a round cut-out with a scale indication: 1:25.000 - 250 m and respectively 1:100.000 - 1000 m. The German version featured additional cut-away tactical symbols and stowed in a separate papier pouch.

The case has two holes, one of which being designed for a plane table screw and the other for sticking the compass onto any piece of wood.

The leather pouch also contains a square protrator

(Click on the pictures for enlarged views)

German compass rose with grid, 6400 mils, and zero facing South

Tactical symbols on the plate:

Models I and II

Early model with WEST-OST bar like on the Bézard compasses:

Sighting over the aiming aids

Technical Data
- Case: aluminium
- Dimensions: 95 x 52 x 15 mm
- Weight: 130 gr
- Rulers on case sides with divisions in cm but without figures.
- On both sides of the mirror are scales indicated:
1:100.000 and 1:25.000
- Compass rose graduation: 360 Grad. The figures are displayed on two concentric circles. Cardinal points in Italian (N O S E). On the German models, the compass rose displays a 6400 mils graduation with the zero facing South (see also the remark concerning the change of design "zero facing North" in the special chapter dedicated to the BÉZARD Marching compass).

Project of a version with clinometer - Patent no. 131457
(Click on picture below to open a pdf)

Drawing in the User's manual:
The level can be adapted to the compass rose for the clinometer function.

(Click on the picture for an enlarged view)

Clinometer function.
The pouch also features a fitting for tripods. All three parts can constitute then a single unit.

Sighting with the compass attached to a simple branch stuck into the ground.
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- X -

XBK, Busola 60

xbk was the industrial code of the Czechoslovakian optics company MEOPTA during the communist era.
The crossed swords are the symbol of Czechoslovakia's armed forces. There is also a version with the company name and a five-branched star made for the soviet troops.
This compass casing's shape is also to be found on the contemporary compass called KONUS TRAVEL, in particular the window in the lid and the clinometer's sights at the rear side under the lid's hinge.
Compare to the vz. 54 wrist compass model made by yal

Inscriptions on the lid:
- 1/6000 (MILS division type)
- 3991 (serial no.)
- Click on pic. at left: image of the same model but signed by MEOPTA
- Click on pic. at right: image of the engraved table on the MEOPTA version
- Click here for view dismantled
(Pics of the Meopta model courtesy Dr Spielberg)
Technical Data
- Prism (not adjustable)
- Casing: aluminum, military green paint
- Dimensions : 78 x 60 x 32 mm
- Weight: 215 g
- Ruler: 50 mm
- Divisions (on marching angle ring): 6000 mils, clockwise
- Card: aluminum, fluid dampened, cardinals in Czech language (V - J - Z) with arrow at North
- Clinometer: press-button released, gravity controled wheel, divisions: 6000 mils (Warsaw Pact system: 1500 for 90 °), sights: groove along the lid's hinge
This model was designated Busola 60 in the Army Manual

Picture courtesy 
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British or US-made items

- 1 -
No manufacturer mark. Cardinals in English language. Divisions: 360 deg. counter-clockwise. Dim. : 103 x 103 mm

Survey Compass

No maker indicated. Maybe Austrian (discovered in Vienna). Early 20th c. Probably used together with a special device like tripod. The double graduation (quadrants on disc and casing) is an evidence of it's use for survey works.

Pictures courtesy O. Schützlhofer and Jaypee

Fiche technique
- Dimensions : dia. approx. 80 mm ; ht. approx. 50 mm
- Divisions on compass rose: 4 quadrants,
- Divisions on rotating casing:
twice 0 2 4 6 8 8 6 4 2, i.e. 4 x 90° matching the compass disc divisions
- Cardinals in German (N-O-S-W)
- Foldable vanes, wire cross
- Tube level

Germany, Sitometer

Front lens for lateral reading

(Click on the pictures for enlarged views)
Conversion table (reverse):

Prism and gun-type sight

Technical Data
- Case: aluminum
- Dimensions: 85 x 60 x 26 mm
- Weight: 230 gr
- Ruler: 70 mm
- Crown divisions: 6400 mill., anticlockwise
- Rose: liquid damped
- Clinometer: gravity stabilised wheel, divisions 0-100 units

NOTE: the compass card's design (dark disk with a short arrow) is also to be seen on a WILKIE marching compass built in the 50's/60's.
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Y - Z


Famous German company located in Iena (Jena in German). Carl Zeiss built among other instruments before and during WWI an artillery compass like the one we display made by GOERZ. Zeiss also produced in the late 19th c. a special compass similar to the ones below but divided into 5760 MILS (1 unit equals 1/16th of a degree). This particular division system was used until the year 2000 in the German Artillerie-Aufklärung (Artillery-Reconnaissance unit).
(see picture at right).

NOTE: On some of them the company's name is abbreviated C.Z. which leads some people to believe that this is a Czech product. This is totally illogical because the cardinal points are indicated in German. See MISCELLANEOUS for the name of the cardinal points in Czech language.

Pictures courtesy Jan Hessels

The large trough compass
WWI aiming circle

Pictures Jan van der Borden

Click on the picture for a view of the support alone

Version with abbreviated manufacturer's name (C.Z.)

(Picture courtesy Ted Brink -
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Former German company located in Stuttgart ?
Indication on six-pages flyer (pict. at r.) : "Alleinhersteller M. TIDICK, Stuttgart, Postfach 66" (sole manufacturer M. TIDICK, Stuttgart, Mailbox 66). No further data momentarily available: Your help is welcome.
The word ZIKO was very probably created with the German words Zirkel (drawing compass) and Kompass (magnetic compass). In the late 19th c. at least three patents or trademarks had been filed for "Zirkel" with which distances could be directly measured on maps.
At left: (early item 1900 or WW1 ?). Length between two "thorns" is 2 km or 500 m depending on map scale.

Map reading devices (Click on pictures for enlarged views)

Technical Data
- Material: plastic
- Dimensions: 65 x 55 mm
- Speeds for infantry, cavalry and artillery units
- Scales: 1:100,000 - 1:80,000 - 1:125,000 - 1:75,000

The oldest known versions (Schardt catalogue 1914 below l.) were silver- or even gold-coated. Pic at r.: Hermann v. Kirchner's version:

Technical Data
- Material: plastic
- Dimensions: 65 x 55 mm
- Speed indications and scales (see pict. at left)
- Equivalence of various length and surface units (German, geographic and Russian miles, versts, hectars etc.)

Compared compass types

Technical Data
- Material: aluminium
- Dimensions: 95 x 65 mm
- No speed indication but a compass rose with a red course setting arrow
- Graduation : 360 degrees (clockwise) and 6400 mils (counterclockwise)
- Indication Visierlinie (Line of sight)
- Compass types (see pic. at left): there were two versions: a small one (dia. 18 mm) with only a white card and cardinal point without any luminous paint and a large one (diameter: 25 mm/1 inch) in which a rose made of aluminium paper was glued. A dot of luminous paint shows the gross direction of magnetic North located by 340 degrees - which would correspond to the early 19th c. in Europe! The needle's North point is also covered with luminous paint.

ZMI / 3Mu in cyrillic letters (italic)

Abbr. name of a company located in Kharkov in the former Soviet Union, now in Kharkiv in the Ukraine (see B-2)
ЗМИ - Завод Маркшейдерских Инструментов = Manufacturing Plant for Minings Instruments (the German word Markscheider is used in Russian


(Abbreviated?) Name of a company located in Sarajevo, Boznia and Herzegovina, a part of former Yugoslavia, created after WWII. The instrument is an aiming device for mortars but the compass was probably supplied by a third company like Teleoptik (see this manufacturer's name in the department Marching Compasses).


Technical Data
- See Main Data on flyer
- Height : 420 mm
- Compass dia.: 100mm
- User Instruction:
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