More Money Than Sense?

Last night on eBay someone plunked down $1,200.00 (plus $25 shipping) to purchase a used Brunton pocket transit. Silly impulse purchase? A case of SUI (Surfing Under the Influence)? Or does the buyer know something I don’t?


This auction opened and closed on the same day. The opening bid price (set by the seller) was $700, with a buy-it-now price set at $1,200. I thought $700 was somewhat high, but clearly someone else thought $1,200 was just right

You see, this particular Brunton appears to sport the serial number 232 (although it’s hard to make out in the lousy photos the seller provided). If the serial number is valid this puts it somewhere in the first or second year of production – around 1895. This is by far the earliest production Brunton I’ve ever seen for sale.


Given what information could be gleaned from the poor photos the seller provided, this transit looks right for an early model – hand engraving on the lid (with no sine tables), small view hole in the lid, no lid mounted peep sight, no tripod bracket slots and a single tube level on the clinometer

I sincerely hope the buyer is happy with his/her purchase. Who knows, perhaps it’s destined for a museum collection (which might explain why it sold so fast at the buy-it-now price). If the buyer happens to read this blog I’d love to hear more about your decision to purchase this pocket transit and perhaps provide a few detailed photos of this remarkable example to share with the readership.

I’ve added this Brunton to the Pocket Transit Serial Number Project spreadsheet so we have a record of its existence and sale. To date it is the second oldest Brunton on the list. I’d love to know more about its history – who owned it, where it was purchased, where it was used. These fine old instruments usually have a great story to tell.

– Brian


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