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probably made in Edinburgh

Postcard of Theodolite.
© National Museums Scotland


A theodolite is a surveying instrument for measuring horizontal and vertical angles. This brass example was made around 1850, probably by Alexander Adie & Son of Edinburgh. It was designed in 1844 by John Sang, a land surveyor.

The theodolite has a telescope focused by rack-and-pinion, with a bubble level below. The horizontal circle is calibrated from 0 to 400 grades around a compass and is marked 'Adie & Son / Edinburgh'. It is mounted on a two-screw levelling-head.

The existence of instruments divided into grades (400 to the revolution) rather than degrees suggests that the firm Alexander Adie & Son had equipment that could handle division in this system also.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-102-718-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1971.16
Date: Around 1850
c. 1850
Material: Blackened brass, silver scales. Inscription: Adie & Son / Edinburgh
Dimensions: 220 mm H overall
Subject: 5. CARTOGRAPHY, Surveying (Departmental Classification)
Who: Adie and Son, Edinburgh (Maker)
Where: Scotland, Midlothian, Edinburgh
Description: Four-inch theodolite of brass, signed by Adie and Son of Edinburgh, c. 1850
  • Sang, John. 'Description of an Improved Apparatus for Levelling Small Theodolites', Transactions of the Royal Scottish Society of Arts 2. (1844) pp 306-7 
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