The accession consists of one surveyor's compass, which is a surveyor's tool for measuring angles used during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The object is signed by Judah Joseph, the individual who created this device. It is suspected that there are only four (potentially less) signed artifacts by Joseph (one of which resides at the Museum of Visual Science and Optomitry in Waterloo, ON), making this one quite unique and rare.
Object was purchased from William Daniels in 1991 for $5500. The funds were donated by Fred Schaeffer and Nancy Draper through a UJWF grant through the Endowment Fund
Judah Joseph was one of the first Jewish settlers in Toronto. He was also the first purveyor of optical and mathematical instruments in Toronto. He was born in Exeter, England in 1798 and received his training in the Channel Islands. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1820 and set himself up as an optician and Jeweller in Cincinati. He moved to Hamilton, and soonafter to Toronto during the 1830s. He opened his shop at 56 King Street East in Toronto in 1838. He specialized in spectacles, mathematical instruments, jewellery, watches, silverware and other equipment that he could make or repair.
Judah Joseph was a member of the Toronto Hebrew Congregation and was a founder of the first Jewish cemetery in the city, which was located on Pape Avenue. He was buried there in 1857.
A surveying compass (also known as a circumferentor) like this one is the precursor to the theodolite which evolved in the early 1800s.