What is it? #1

UPDATE: Using just the information in the post below I was able to find out what this device is (Google rocks).  See if you can find the clue that helped me solve the riddle.

OK, I have some "stuff" laying around – some of it I’ve moved around the world with me, yet I have no clue what it is.

So where better to find an answer?

The first What is it? (WII?) device is almost all brass and is just under 5 inches long.

If has a viewing port on one end and a piece of glass on the other.  The glass (photo 1 below) does have some type of scale on it.

wii_1 If you click on the photo to see a larger image you will notice some type of scale on the glass.

This image was scanned at 2400 dpi.

 DSC00411Another view of the front glass – with the level on top.  This is a digital photograph.  The level on the top is a simple air-bubble type level.
wii_7Here a view of one of the sides with a ruler for scale.
DSC00408 This is the best photo I could get of the viewing end.  There is a very, very small viewing port in the middle of the brass "button" on the end.  The button spins, but seems to have no affect on focus or anything.
wii_2 Scanned image of the level.
wii_3 Scanned image of one of the sides. 
wii_4 Scanned image of one of the sides.
wii_5 Scanned image of one of the sides. Note that this side has a small "slider" on it with what would appear to be a lock-down screw.  Loosening the screw caused the mechanism to get "wiggly" but it will no longer adjust.  Either it is broken, or just frozen in place.  I don’t want to force it for fear of damaging it.


So WII?  Give me your answer in the comments.


  1. I have this with the the transit, e-mail me if you would like to see pictures

  2. @Gerry – cool. It is an interesting conversation piece. 🙂

  3. gerry miels says:

    I just bought the same thing at an estate auction. Mine does have ‘SWIFT & ANDERSON INC BOSTON, MASS.’ on the body. All intact.

  4. @Paul – good job! I could not even see the stamping on the side of the brass until I scanned the object.

    And yes, I ended up at this site as well: http://cgi.ebay.com/vintage-Swift-Anderson-Inc-surveyors-sight-level-NR_W0QQitemZ280175060978QQihZ018QQcategoryZ4087QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem#ebayphotohosting

  5. @Rob: It’s a vintage Swift & Anderson Inc.surveyors sight level.

  6. @Rick – you are close – and I have no doubt it could have been used in the fashion you describe, even though that was not its intent.

    And no, you don;t win it. I started thinking about it again as I was preparing a box of stuff to take to the Witte Museum. This belongs in that box 🙂

  7. Not sure what it is but can give you my best guess. It almost looks like an antique range finder for directing Field Artillery onto it’s target. We had binoculars with the same scale in the glass that we used. In the older days, they didn’t use binos because the scales were not accurate, they just used a glass portal. Not sure if thats what it is…but you now have my guess. Do I win the item if I’m found to be right? (have no idea why there would be a level on it though) 😆