18th-Century Goldsmith Chandlee Surveyor’s Compass

Value (2008) | $20,000 Retail$25,000 Retail

Well, I just went to an antique shop up in Salina, Kansas, and just looking for contractor's tools and antique tools, and I saw this. Caught my eye. And they wanted, like, $120 for it in 1970, and had to have it.

So $120 in 1970. Well, I suppose you did the same thing that I'm doing right now. You took the lid off and this little note was in there. "Owned and used by David Smith in Ohio in 1795." Did that date kind of...?

It kind of got me excited there just when it was that old.

Okay, well, it would have me, too.


Well, when you brought it over there, the thing that got me excited right off the bat was, I could tell it was a very early compass because the workmanship is so fine. But the kicker for me was right here, if you'd noticed the name on there.

No, I really haven't.

You never noticed it?


This name right here is "G. Chandlee." His name was Goldsmith Chandlee. And it says "Winchester" over here. Winchester, Virginia.


Goldsmith Chandlee was born in 1751, and he trained under his father in Maryland. And his father and he and two of his brothers were four out of the six real famous Quaker clockmakers in the 18th century. And in 1783, he moved to Winchester, Virginia, and started his own business, and this could have been made any time between 1783 and 1795. The date on that note when you bought it. In Winchester, Virginia, he set up a brass or bronze forge and he did a lot of metalwork and things. So, he was a pretty well-known guy, and some of his clocks are some of the best ones that you see in early America in the 18th century. How much do you think it's worth compared to what you paid?

Uh, I had a friend of mine said it was worth about a thousand dollars.

This is worth $20,000 to $25,000 retail. I checked around with my colleagues, and several of them have sold for more than $20,000 at auction.

Well, the tripod's probably not original, is it?

No, no, the tripod's much later. If this tripod were the original tripod, it would probably double the value. But I've been doing this 34 years, and I've never seen an original tripod.

Appraisal Details

Ken Farmer & Associates
Charlottesville, VA
Appraised value (2008)
$20,000 Retail$25,000 Retail
Wichita, KS (July 12, 2008)
18th Century

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