PROVINCIAL FRENCH SURVEYING SQUARE FROM THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY
Stock Number: 10251
Signed and dated surveying square from the 17th century, of brass or copper, gilded and attached to a walnut block.
7-3/4" (20 cm) square
G. Viellard à Autun
Country of manufacture
PROVINCIAL FRENCH SURVEYING SQUARE FROM THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY, 1668, signed “G. VIELLARD Arpent 1668 à Autun.” The surveying square is made of sheet copper or brass, gilded and pinned to a 7-3/4″ (20 cm) square block of dense walnut (?). This plate has an open center and is inscribed with four degree circles, punch divided every five degrees and every degree, labeled with punched numerals every ten degrees in each quadrant running from 0 to 90 and from 90 to 0, and running full circle from 0 to 360 (noting half a dozen punched numeral errors corrected by the maker). Two spandrels are labeled respectively “D A M IN ORTUM SEPT IN OCCA” and “D A M IN OCCASUM SEPT IN ORTUM.” Two alidades rotate about the center, clampable with hand-shaped iron wing nut. The alidades may be used singly or in combination; each has decoratively shaped and engraved ends and central engraved eight-petaled flower. One alidade is flat, the other mounted with twin sight vanes each with double sighting holes. Condition is fine noting the central screw probably replaced, wear to the gilding, brown patina to the exposed brass / copper, and old worm holes to the wood.
This is a fine and rare example of early surveying instrument, by an unlisted maker who calls himself an “arpent,” i.e., a surveyor, and who worked in Autun in Burgundy in east central France. Searching through the published inventory of the Archives Departementales of the Cote-d¹or, we find existence of the drawn survey of the forest of Fouchères, made by Guy Viellard, listed not just as surveyor, but as “arpenteur juré du Roi.” Another document records permissions for wood harvesting in the forest, from 1645 – 1674, just when this instrument was made and used.
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David and Yola Coffeen both have enjoyed academic careers, as planetary astronomer and as linguist/educator. But since 1982 (yes, 1982!) they have been full-time dealers in early scientific and medical instruments, under the name Tesseract. Selling primarily by catalogue (over 100 issued so far) they also have a web presence at www.etesseract.com, and can be contacted at [email protected]
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