Offered here is a very interesting late 1830s Ewin compass that has seen very little field use. What makes this compass so interesting is the internal chain counter (inside the compass box) and the L – T table on the South arm of the compass mainplate. Goldsmith Chandlee and his successor (George Graves) are the only makers to use internal chain counters and L – T Tables. (An L – T Table converts links from a 25 link 33 ft chain into tenths – so 10 links equals 4 tenths of a chain.)
Ewin is a fascinating maker. Ewin was born in 1808 and trained under Richard Patten. Ewin thereafter made instruments from 1832 to 1836 as part of Ewin & Heartte. Heartte died in 1836 and Ewin continued to make instruments until 1840 or so under his own name. So he made instruments as a partner for 4 years and as a sole owner for another 4 years. And then he quit making instruments. Pretty short run.
I’ve found a handful of his instruments made by Ewin when he was the sole owner of the business – a really nice level, a Railroad Gonionmeter, a Railroad Compass, and the plain compass offered here with an internal chain counter and a Chandlee L-T Table. That’s an AMAZING amount of upper-end instrument diversity for a guy who didn’t make instruments for very long and stopped making instruments at the age of 32.
I think there were only a few guys making RR Gonionmeters, with Young being the first and main guy. The main RR Compass makers – Young, Pike, Patten and the Troy makers (Meneely, Hanks & Gurley). Internal Chain Counters and L-T Tables – the Chandlees and Graves. That’s a pretty impressive list of makers.
While Ewin didn’t invent a new instrument, he certainly could very skillfully generate high-end instruments introduced by others. Not bad for a guy who left the instrument making business at the age of 32.
The compass offered here has seen very little use. It is not as crisp and clean looking as the 1840 Roach & Warner compass that I recently sold, which is why I’m pricing this compass for less. But this is a wonderful compass nonetheless, and shows more fingerprints than actual use.
The compass had a 5 inch needle and a 14.5 inch mainplate.
To read more about William Ewin, please go to my William Ewin Maker Webpage
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The Compleat Surveyor specializes in rare instruments and books related to land surveying. This initially was a family business - my father (F. D. Uzes) was a noted surveyor, collector and author (Illustrated Price Guide To Antique Surveying Instruments and Books - published in 1980). Having spent a lifetime surrounded by old instruments and books, I now run the business myself. I use my website (www.CompleatSurveyor.com) to both sell instruments and provide historical information related to land surveying.
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