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Postcard of Clinometer.
© National Museums Scotland


A clinometer is a surveying instrument used for measuring the angle of inclination. This brass example was made around 1830. It is unsigned.

This clinometer, for observing small vertical angles, is of an unusual pattern. It has a large circular bubble level set into the top of the housing to ensure that the instrument was horizontal before readings began, and would have been mounted on a tripod. There is another tubular bubble level slung below the reading arm. The instrument has an Admiralty mark 'FO 49'.

Clinometers were used in the measuring of comparative heights of landmarks. They were part of the specialised equipment necessary for coastal mapping.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-001-167-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0504: National Museums Scotland Part 2
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1910.90
Date: Around 1830
c. 1830
Material: Glass. Inscription: FO 49 [Admiralty mark]
Dimensions: 21.00" L; 1.50" D
What: Specimen / nautical instrument / clinometer / box
Subject: 5. CARTOGRAPHY, Surveying (Departmental Classification)
Who: Admiralty (Owner)
Description: One of a group of nautical, astronomical and drawing instruments - a clinometer for observing small vertical angles, without stand, Admiralty mark "FO 49", in a box, made c. 1830
  • For the marking of instruments for the Hydrographic Office, see Stimson, A.N., 'Some Board of Longitude Instruments in the Nineteenth Century' in De Clercq, P.R., Nineteenth Century Scientific Instruments and their Makers, Amsterdam and Leiden, 1985, App 
  • J.A. Bennett, The Divided Circle: a History of Instruments for Astronomy, Navigation and Surveying, Oxford, 1987, pp 154-8 
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