Fine W & S Jones miniature surveying compass, c.1815, offered with the Jones catalogue

Fine W & S Jones miniature surveying compass, c.1815, offered with the Jones catalogue

Stock Number: 2406921910


Very rare 3.5" variant of the circumferentor illustrated in the Jones editions of Adams' Geometrical and Graphical Essays; offered with Jones' 15-page catalogue for 1827


89mm diameter; 14.5mm depth




W & S Jones

Country of manufacture

UK and Ireland

Categories: Surveying Instruments & Mining, Scientific


A fine miniature surveying compass by W & S Jones of London, c.1815

Offered with: A Catalogue of Optical, Mathematical, and Philosophical Instruments, dated August 1827

This beautiful instrument is very similar to the example illustrated in George Adams’ Geometrical and Graphical Essays, first published by Jones in 1797, Plate XV, Fig. 4. However, it differs in two respects from the illustration: the present compass is not set on a graduated base and is therefore not a true circumferentor, and the sights are doubled, as suggested in the text and shown in another figure on the plate.

The instrument is a delightful piece of design work, with the sights packing inside the lid with screws to locate them. The lid in turn is fitted to a specific point on the base. The instrument is complete and in fine condition, noting in particular the delicate sighting wires, completely intact save for the solder at one end of one of the wires (which could easily be repaired).

The catalogue demonstrates the extraordinary range of Jones’ stock, running to 16 pages and covering a very wide range of prices and instrument types, as well as books and “articles made out for the purposes of private or public lectures”. The pamphlet is in very good condition, disbound but complete in itself, unmarked throughout.

We have been unable to find any other examples of this instrument in major collections. The catalogue is also very scarce, located in only three institutions on OCLC (Corning Museum of Glass, New York Public Library, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum).

Brothers William and Samuel Jones traded from Holborn in London as W & S Jones between 1791 and 1859, offering the full range of instruments. By the end of the eighteenth century they had transformed their father’s modest opticians into the main instrument retailer in the capital. A large part of the success can be attributed to the acquisition and re-publishing of works by instrument authors Benjamin Martin and George Adams the Younger.

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