A Catalogue of Instruments and Models in the Possession of the American Philosophical Society

By Robert P. Multhauf | Go to book overview

III
Geographical Apparatus and Models

Like other fields of scientific investigation, geographical exploration was undertaken on an ever-increasing scale in the last half of the eighteenth century. When the American Philosophical Society was reestablished, Captain Cook had just embarked on the first of his epochal voyages which were to contribute so much to defining more precisely the face of the globe. This redefinition is called to our attention dramatically on a globe (58-40) "containing all the latest discoveries and communications from the most correct and authentic observations and surveys to the year 1799 by Capn Cook and more recent navigators." The globe was presented to the Society by the London instrument-maker, Wm. Jones, in 1800, along with a companion celestial globe.

The geodesist was following closely on the heels of the geographer. In 1764 the Royal Society had resolved to employ Messrs. Mason and Dixon to measure precisely a degree of latitude in America, "in the neighborhood of Pennsylvania." In Europe itself geodetic work was sufficiently commonplace to allow a young man to contemplate making it a career. At the end of the century one of these brought to America his experience in Alpine geodesy, and left with the Society a souvenir of that work, a small plaster model of Mont Blanc (58-41, fig. 10). This visitor of 1805 was Ferdinand Hassler, who was to give an effective foundation to geodetic work in this country.

The interest of the Society in exploration was to be more directly shown in the beginning of the nineteenth century as it undertook to provide a home for specimens collected in the West by Lewis and Clark. These materials, dating 1804-1806, were subsequently lent to the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, where they may still be found.


PAIR OF TERRESTRIAL AND CELESTIAL GLOBES

18" globes in wooden ring-stands 15 ¼" high. Marked as described below. Received in 1800.

-21-

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A Catalogue of Instruments and Models in the Possession of the American Philosophical Society
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations xi
  • Early Museums of Instruments and Models 1
  • The American Philosophical Society 4
  • I - Apparatus for Astronomy, Geodesy, And Surveying. 8
  • II - Electrical Apparatus 16
  • III - Geographical Apparatus and Models 21
  • IV - Meteorological Apparatus 24
  • V - Apparatus for Physical Science and Medicine 26
  • VI - Mathematical Instruments and Models 34
  • VII - Mechanical Models 36
  • VIII - Agricultural Machinery 42
  • IX - Ship Models and Nautical Instruments 44
  • X - Timekeeping 49
  • XI - Heating Appliances 54
  • XII - Apparatus for the Graphic Arts 60
  • List of Specimens by Catalogue Number 63
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