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    Description

    George Washington: His Personally Owned Compass Used As a Young Surveyor. This tool was actually used in conjunction with the Gunter's scale offered in the preceding lot, as a compass was required in order to make calculations using the scale. It is quite well-made and substantial, the upper portion of brass; this is clearly a professional's tool and not a student's toy. While in very good condition, it shows clear indications of extensive use. Length 5".

    The compass, or divider caliper, has a long history. The earliest known example was recovered from the wreck of a Greek vessel dating from the sixth century BC. By the time of the Han Dynasty (202 BC - 220 AD), bronze calipers were widely in use in China. In addition to the unique application invented by Gunter, they are used to draw a perfect arc or circle, and to measure distances on maps. This would have been an invaluable tool for a field surveyor such as young Washington.

    Like the previous lot, it has been consigned by the heirs of George Washington, John Augustine Washington, and Bushrod Washington, and is accompanied by a letter of provenance from the family.

    Well documented objects owned and used by George Washington seldom appear on the market. When they do, their importance and value is gauged by the context in which they were employed and the degree to which they evoke a sense of the man. These surveyors tools are among the few surviving artifacts of Washington's youth, and are directly tied to an important and familiar chapter in his personal development. As such, they would be a most significant acquisition for any sophisticated collector or institution.




    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2011
    21st Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 10,020

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