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Surveyor’s Compass

Hagger, Benjamin King –Callender
Place Made:
Baltimore Maryland United States of America
Date Made:
LOA 15 1/4 WOA 6 1/4 DOA 2 7/8 see desc.
Accession Number:
4280 a-f
DESCRIPTION: brass compass with detachable sights, poplar case, tripod, and chain.

COMPASS (4280 b,c,d) with simple, undecorated magnetic needle; dial is engraved with a stylized fleur-de-lis at North, each of the other 7 directional points is indicated by capital letters (clockwise NW, W, SW, S, SE, E, NE) with a single engraved line running through the directional indicator; center of face is engraved with two bands of two concentric circles each forming a deeper central band; wider band is decorated with strings of leaves on left and right and name of maker and place on top and bottom (see inscription); raised circumferential degree scale; horizontal and vertical levels to left and right of compass face (respectively). Lid is brass and is lined with engraved paper compass-card (Callender, engraver) with 8 point compass rose with directions indicated in the various points of the star; degrees indicated in outermost band.

CASE (4280 e) (LOA 16 7/8; WOA 8; DOA approx 2 1/2 is popla; two parts hinged with brass hinge; lined with green wool (top) and rag carpet scraps; illegible 20th century adhesive label on top.

TRIPOD (4280 a) (HOA 55 1/4) has three walnut legs with brass tips (tip of one leg is missing); each leg decorated mid-way with two incised concentric circles; and brass top apparatus with a ball and socket joint for attaching to compass.

CHAIN (4280 f) (LOA 337 1/2) consisted of steel rods linked together with brass “tags” every 77″-82″; oblong handles on either end.

LABEL NOTES: The compass card inserted inside the lid of the compas dial was engraved by Callender. This Callender could have been either Benjamin Jr. (1773–1856) or Joseph (1751–1821), both of whom were working in Massachusetts: Benjamin in Boston and then Northfield and Joseph in Boston.

This chain did not originally go with this compass.

MESDA owned a Hadley Quadrant made by Hagger (Acc. # 4080, S-15439).

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY: Benjamin King Hagger (c. 1769-1834) is believed to have been born in Newport, Rhode Island. His father, William Guyse Hagger, was in partnership with instrument maker Benjamin King for a time. His mother was one of Benjamin King’s sisters. It is believed that the family moved to Boston after the Revolution.

Benjamin King Haggar is listed in the Boston, MA, city directory in 1789 as “a mathematical instrument maker” with an address on Ann Street and was married in Boston in 1796 to Mehitable Ballard. In about 1816, Hagger and his family moved to Baltimore, advertizing a line of “clock Movements and materials” in the FEDERAL REPUBLICAN & BALTIMORE TELEGRAPH on 10 October 1817 and advertizing himself as a “Mathematical & Optical Instrument Maker” at No. 57, South St. in the 10 March issue of the BALTIMORE PATRIOT & EVENING ADVERTISER. Hagger died in Baltimore on November 8, 1834. His shop was maintained by two of his sons until well after his death.

Credit Line:
MESDA Purchase Fund