I recently acquired a mid-1900’s copy of Ainsworth’s Brunton Pocket Transit owners manual. This is the small manual that was included with every pocket transit sold.
Click on the image to open the manual as a PDF
Included with this manual was a 1957 price list and the prices it shows makes for some fun comparisons to prices today
In 1957 an Ainsworth manufactured pocket transit would set you back $49.50. Wow! Compared to current pricing for the same item made today by the Brunton Company – $400 – that was quite a bargain.
Or was it? There’s no direct comparison between 1957 prices and 2016 prices. If we calculate for inflation using consumer price index numbers, $49.50 in 1957 dollars = $417.52 in 2015 dollars. So the pocket transit buyer in 1957 was actually paying about $17 more in inflation adjusted dollars for his compass.
Any way you calculate it a new pocket transit is a pricey piece of equipment. It wasn’t (and still isn’t) a purchase decision a young college student or newly graduated geologist made lightly, but it was a necessary and critical piece of his professional kit. That probably explains why there are so many well used but well cared for examples available today on auction sites like eBay.
I just bought an older (1970’s perhaps) Brunton Riverton M2 transit off of ebay and was surprised by the 1957 prices. When comparing to a new transit I guess not all that much has changed by way of inflation. It took a while to find your blog, but I’ve been enjoying the reading. I plan to use it on my backpacking and river trips for determining the height of old trees and the height of cliffs, etc. Never knew these things existed until a couple of months ago and it’s been an interesting time learning to use it . . . accurately. Wish I had it several years ago when I floated through Canyonlands NP. Next time I’ll bring it along.