Pocket Transit Resource Page

On this page are links to some key Brunton pocket transit resources:

Pocket Transit Serial Number Project – this link is to a PDF version of William J. Hudson’s original pocket transit serial number compilation. The goal is to build a database of serial numbers and descriptions that will permit other pocket transit owners to determine the manufacture date of their instruments. An discussion of the background of this database and the nomenclature used can be found here. If you have a pocket transit (from any quality manufacturer) and would like to have its serial number and description added to the list just drop me an email and I’ll get it added.

William J. Hudson’s ‘Brunton Pocket Transits’ Web Archive Pages – From roughly 2004 to 2012 William J. Hudson maintained the best pocket transit resource on the web. While the site is no longer active, Mr. Hudson has given permission for full use of his information. The PDF files linked here are a copy of the web archive of Mr. Hudson’s site as provided by the web archiving service Wayback Machine.

Pocket Transit Patents – Here is a list of patent applications in PDF format related to pocket transit design and improvements. All files are from the US Patent Office database:

Transits, Timbers & Tunnels: The Legacy of Colorado Inventor David W. Brunton – An excellent article on the life and contributions of David Brunton from ‘Enterprise & Innovation In The Pikes Peak Region’ published by the Pikes Peak Library District.

The David W. Brunton Inductee Page at the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum website – David Brunton was more than the inventor of the pocket transit, he was one of the most innovative mining engineers of his day.

David W. Brunton And His Compass – From the Aspen TImes, August 4, 2010.

Ainsworth 1957 Brunton Pocket Transit Owners Manual – A PDF of the 1957 version of the owners manual that was included with every pocket transit sold. Includes a 1957 price sheet.

55 thoughts on “Pocket Transit Resource Page

  1. Hello. I live in the Toronto Ontario Canada area. I have a Brunton Pocket Transit with serial number 605.
    It belonged to my husband’s Uncle. Both are deceased and therefore have no way of finding out how and when the Uncle acquired it. He was born around 1915 and was never in any wars due to an eye sight problem.
    I am divesting myself of many “old” things these days and would be interested in selling this if i knew what the value might be.
    would send pictures if i can get an e-mail address.

  2. I also have a pocket transit used by my grandfather. It is a Keuffel & Esser Co. N.Y. Pat. Feb. 2, 26 with a serial number 39608.

  3. I was in Santiago, Chile, in 1974 and spotted an old Brunton compass in an optometrist’s window. I could see the serial number (#6392), so inquired about it. It seemed that the optometrist had accepted it as payment for a pair of glasses during the hard times in Chile. Needless to say, I bought it.

    The mirror was broken and it had a 360° scale, which I don’t like, so I shipped it off to Brunton for repairs and a quadrant scale (still have the original 360°). Brunton was very anxious to acquire the compass for their collection, but I kept it, and it has since traveled with me to 74 countries.

    But we all get old and I know no one who would appreciate receiving this old compass, so have decided to sell it. Is any one out there interested in purchasing a 4 digit serial number Brunton?

  4. I have a Brunton pocket transit, sn 2610103249. How do I find the model number or age? Thanks for your help. Russ

  5. I have a Brunton pocket transit, sn 2610103249. How do I find the model number or age? Thanks for your help. Russ

  6. I inherited my Uncle’s brass, olive-drab painted US military Brunton Compass. He was a Marine who fought (& was wounded) in some serious battles in the Pacific. The little sighting hinge fell off, (I have the piece) and I’m wondering where I could send it to be repaired and perhaps serviced. (I live in the UK). Thanks.

  7. I have my Grandfather’s D.W. Brunton’s transit, Serial # 18219 made by Wm. Ainsworth & Sons Denver Colorado USA. Pat July 20,1926. It is in excellent shape and has the original leather case.

  8. I have my Grandfather’s D.W. Brunton’s transit, Serial # 18219 made by Wm. Sins worth & Sons Denver Colorado USA. Pat July 20,1926. It is in excellent shape and has the original leather case.

  9. I have a brunton transit
    With serial number 147768
    It was made in riverton wyoming. I would love to learn more about it

  10. I almost bought a Brunton-style pocket transit at Brunson supply in Denver, marked “Denver Geodetic” for the brand. This was in 1987, and they were closing the last two out for $99, new, in leather cases. It looked like an aluminum case, un-textured as I recall. I wish I had bought one now. This sounds different than the markings you reference on the Bruntons from Ainsworth Geodetic in Denver. Is anyone familiar with the Denver Geodetic brand? Thanks

    • I just purchased a Brunson Geodetic compass and would love to find out more information about this manufacturer.

  11. I inherited a brunton from my grandpa and I now need one for my geology program at the university. I want to use my grandpa’s but I am afraid it is so old I should keep it and buy a new one to use in the field. My grandpa’s brunton is labeled dw brunton’s pocket transit,trade mark reg us pat off, Wm. Ainsworth and sons, Denver Colorado serial number 56247
    If you could help me date this I would appreciate it.

    • Mine is 60325, and it was bought new in the winter of 1958-59. These are tough devices, and you could certainly use it.

      But if you do want to get a new one and if you are an impecunious college student, I’d recommend a Chinese copy, available on Amazon and eBay.

  12. I just acquired a D.W. Brunton’s Pocket Transit (#77881) in near mint condition. Exterior is “crinkle finish” light tan color. Interior and mirror are perfect. It has the tan leather case and the original instruction booklet, copyright 1929.
    I notice that the pointer needle oscillates back and forth in an un-dampened fashion once the instrument is held still. Is this normal? nThe instructions make reference to a technique of not waiting for the needle to “stabilize” but taking a “mean” reading of the oscillation.

  13. I just recently acquired Brunton Pocket Transit serial number 26287. It is bare aluminum and engraved on the lid with “Natural Tangents” and D.W.BRINTON’s, POCKET TRANSIT, Wm AINSWORTH & SONS, MANUFACTURERS, DENVER COLO USA. It is marked in degrees with one round and one linear level. The clinometer is marked in degrees over % grade. It is in excellent condition with a very clear mirror and only minor signs of use-obviously well taken care of. Unfortunately, I was not able to acquire it with the leather case. Perhaps this info may be of use to you as you document the vintage models of this instrument.

  14. Hi i have a brunton pocket transit inva gi pouch that fits it and marked US
    the compass is engraved u..s.g.s
    The serial number is 1467
    Hope this helps each and all on the quest of dating their compass
    I am assuming this was geographical survey

    • Errol,

      If the serial number truly is 1467 that would date it to the early 1900’s. If it is engraved USGS for the US Geological Survey that would make it even more interesting. The marking G-A-37 may well be an inventory marking placed on the instrument by the USGS. Is there any chance you can provide photos? You can email them to oldtopographer@gmail.com. Thanks!


  15. Hi
    I have a Brunton pocket transit S/N 110672 I was trying to find out how old it is I didn’t see that number in your data base but I could have missed it. Any help would be appreciated.

  16. I have a Brunton Compass , Solid Brass, Stanley London but do not see a serial number. Shipping receipt from Tascano Shows CODE Magz77. Any idea where to find the serial number?

    • Bill, virtually all brass pocket transits marked ‘Stanley London’ are inexpensive exhibit items made in India or Pakistan. They really are not built to any standard and the few I’ve handled have shown iffy accuracy. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

  17. Sir i hold in my hand complete with case, n instruction book mint cond. Owned by my Dad, ser# 78974, Wm. Ainsworth & Sons Denver Colo. Gray color arrow inside one end painted white, has a round bubble n long bubble, my dad used it while in nam recon. It came home got put away in footlocker, till now all dads stuff from then has come to me now, now my dad said his dad who help build most of the old roads here in kern co. Calif. Used it for a bit, before he got it. Mind u im 60yrs old now. Not looking to sell really, any info tho? Picts are attached! Thank u Roland V. Danielson
    Tried email with picts didnt go through!

  18. I have an old Brunton that was my grandfathers. Serial number 016034. I have had it for quite a few years, and every so often decide to take a look at it. It’s quite a tool. Any idea the rough age of this device?

  19. I have what looks like a Brunton pocket transit. On the lid marked Denver Instruments Co. with serial #1033. Inside the box labeled Ainsworth Geodetic Denver, CO. Any idea on the manufacturing date? Thanks.

    • TJ, it’s really hard to say with Denver Instruments because we really don’t have enough verified examples to establish any production date ranges. By chance does it have two sighting holes in the lid (through the mirror)?

  20. I have this one serial no 26331 how old is it and what is it worth
    John todd

    I would like to post a picture but no place for attach ments

  21. Well, I greatly admired a Brunton Pocket Transit my friend found while working at a local landfill. I scrounged around on ebay and found one–authenticity will need to be checked–and purchased it for $52. Seems to be authentic from the photos; it has a Natural Sines plate with a serial number of 31665. The mirror is slightly tarnished, and I plan on sending it to Brunton for refurbishment. Thoughts?


    • Serial number 742 would put it’s manufacturing date right around the dawn of the 20th Century, based on information I currently have available. It is impossible to establish a precise date off of serial numbers, but yours is fairly low and is close to one known to have been made sometime between 1895 – 1900. Can you provide pictures? It’s not often we get a look at a pocket transit as early as yours!

      – Brian

      • I have one with serial #605. Asked about this before but have not heard back from anyone.
        Would love to hear something.

    • Madonna, based on the serial number your pocket transit was manufactured in the 1970’s or 80’s. Without pictures it is impossible to provide any more information on the type or characteristics.

      – Brian

    • Based on the serial number your pocket transit was manufactured in a period that spans from the late 1940’s to the early 1970’s. Without pictures it is impossible to make a determination on the your pocket transit’s features and condition.

      – Brian

  22. I have a K&E that my dad used as a Field Artillery foreword observer. He landed at D-Day on Utah Beach and carried the pocket transit throughout his subsequent 28 year military career. The transit still works and now I am teaching my grandson to use it.

    However, the lens is coated with tiny white flakes, possibly aluminum corrosion and the mirror is just starting to lose some of the silvering.

    Can you recommend a repairman in Colorado?


    • Robert, great story! What you likely have is an M2 compass set out in MILS (6400 MILS to a circle). The mirror problem you describe is common. I don’t know of any repair locations other the Brunton company in Riverton, Wyoming. They offer repair services on old pocket transits. I recommend contacting them directly to see if they can tackle the job. Good luck!

      – Brian

  23. I recently acquired a D.W. BRUNTONS I’m assuming made by Wm. AINSWORTH & SONS with the lid number 39052. Any idea of the age? I know my family has long mining history from Bisbee Arizona to the diamond mines in Africa.

  24. I have a DW Bruntons pocket transit with 2 numbers on it ? Confused the numbers are 76633 and engraved in the outer case is C239452? Any ideas on how old it is?

    • Wendy, I’d be happy to help. Can you provide a picture that shows each of the numbers? I suspect 76633 is the manufacturers serial number and that would mean it was produced some time after WWII, but I’d really need to get a look at some pictures to see if I can narrow down the production time frame.


  25. I have a “Directions-for the use of K&E Pocket Transits (After Brunton) no.5368-1 (with compass ring numbered 0-90-0-90-0.) no.5368-2 (with compass ring numbered 0-360). It has what I think are photos touched with some graphic/or cartoon work for lack of a better way of putting it. Its a bit larger than a credit card and has no date. On the back is a number in the bottom left corner of 12,732. Anyone know what year these instructions were printed and the value? Please help! Thank you,

    • Jodi, than you for your inquiry. K&E was the second largest manufacturer of pocket transits after Ainsworth and their products were of very high quality (as were all K&E instruments). It is really difficult to provide an approximate age for your instruction sheet without seeing photos. If you can provide photos of the pamphlet I might be able to provide an educated guess as to it’s era. You can email them to me at oldtopographer@gmail.com. However, I don’t do valuations on this website – that is really determined by the collector market.


  26. I got a pocket transit from my wife for father’s day with s/n 19937; last patent imprinted is July 20, 1926; is that the manufactured date?

  27. I have a July 20, 1926 pocket transit my grandfather used at Kennecott mine in Utah around the time of the pat. I don’t know anything more because all relatives are deceased.
    The pat. Number is 16407, and inside the interior lip is the same number.
    It is engraved with my grandfather’s name above D. W. BRUNTON’S, “C . T . VAN WINKLE”.

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