Theodolite (detail)

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probably made in London

Postcard of Theodolite (detail).
© National Museums Scotland

Theodolite (detail)

A theodolite is a surveying instrument for measuring horizontal and vertical angles. This is a detail of a theodolite made around 1810, probably by Matthew Berge, a scientific instrument maker based in London.

The theodolite is signed on the horizontal plate 'M. Berge London'. Berge had worked for the most prominent maker in late-18th-century London, Jesse Ramsden and on his death took over the running of his workshop, which included Ramsden's famous dividing engine for mechanically engraving circular scales with speed and accuracy.

Berge ran Ramsden's business from around 1800 until his own death in 1819, when the business (and the all-important dividing engine) was taken over by one of Berge's employees, Nathaniel Allen, in partnership with James Allan.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-190-002-063-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1979.107
Date: Around 1810
c. 1810
What: Theodolite / case
Subject: 5. CARTOGRAPHY, Surveying (Departmental Classification)
Who: Matthew Berge, London (Maker)
Where: England, London
Description: Five-inch theodolite, in a fitted case, by Matthew Berge of London, c. 1810
  • Adams, George, Geometrical and Graphical Essays. London: 1791 For Berge, see Clifton, Gloria, Directory of British Scientific Instrument Makers 1550-1851. London: 1995, p 28 
  • de Clercq, P. R. (ed.) Nineteenth-Century Scientific Instruments and Their Makers. Leiden & Amsterdam: 1985, p 102 
  • For the development of the theodolite, see Bennett, J.A., The Divided Circle: A history of instruments for astronomy, navigation and surveying. Oxford: 1987, pp 145-9 
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