Origin: America, Virginia
Length of legs: 15 5/8" Minimum between points: 5 1/4"
Hickory, chestnut, and iron.
Gift of Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Kennedy
Acc. No. 1985-203
Wooden legs of square section with chamfered corners tapering to octagonal section at points. Leg with wing attached is cut at top to form center leaf of three-leaf hinge, and to permit dividers to close to a 20-degree angle. Seemingly unnecessary cuts are made at the base of this relieved area, possibly intended to accommodate compass opening nearly full circle. Wing is fixed in a through-mortise in one leg and slips through a mortise in the other. There is no securing nut or wedge to fix "moveable" leg to wing. Hinge pivot is riveted iron pin. Points are sharpened iron wire of round section.
Label:Used for scribing circles and arcs, this carpenter’s compass was likely made by the craftsman for his own use. Called a “wing,” the curved piece attached to one leg and passing through the other, added stability. Like the large wooden bevel in this exhibit, this compass was found in the walls of an 18th c. house near Oilville, Virginia.
Provenance:Found in the walls of Woodlawn Plantation (Goochland Co., near Oilville, VA) during its 1937 restoration. Puprortedly, the house was completed in 1776. The donors of this and 1985-202 (bevel) were the owners of Woodlawn Plantation in 1985.