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Q: Identifying antique wagon wheel odometer ( Answered ,   0 Comments )
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 Subject: Identifying antique wagon wheel odometer Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference Asked by: layer2-ga List Price: \$30.00 Posted: 08 Nov 2002 13:06 PST Expires: 08 Dec 2002 13:06 PST Question ID: 102978
 ```I have an antique wagon wheel odometer. The outside is a five inch diameter leather case that has straps that attach to the wheel hub. Inside is a slightly smaller tin case. Within the tin case is a brass assembly that has a pendulum that turns a screw and counter. There are no patent dates or markings of any kind on the assembly. I have a jpeg image of the odometer. What is its vintage and value?``` Request for Question Clarification by tar_heel_v-ga on 08 Nov 2002 13:26 PST ```Can you provide a link to the picture of the item? It would help the Researchers tremendously. Regards, -THV``` Clarification of Question by layer2-ga on 08 Nov 2002 17:34 PST ```Link to image: http://www.miller-family.com/images/antique_odometer.jpg```
 ```Dear layer2-ga; The instrument you have is indeed an odometer used to measure the distance traveled by a human drawn cart or a horse drawn wagon. It dates to the late 1800’s (probably 1890’s) and was used by surveyors and other Topographical Engineers to determine how far they had traveled in a given day. It originally came in a stout leather case and was strapped or attached to a wheel of a wagon to measure the number of revolutions. The dial, which was attached to a heavy brass weight, hung down while the frame and worm gear revolved. The gears were set according to the measurement of the wheel, which was, as you might imagine, of utmost importance in order to provide an accurate estimate because reading were used to draft maps of an area for later conversion to scale. At the end of the day the surveyor would multiply the number of recorded revolutions by the diameter of the wheel to which it was attached to obtain the number of feet traveled. He would average this number as miles, adjusting it as much as 1 to 3 percent, depending upon how rough the terrain had been during the day’s travels. The result was by no means accurate but provided a fairly good idea of the overall distance. On April 19, 1847, William Clayton, lead his wagon train from Omaha, Nebraska to Utah an in his journals he recorded his mileage. On this trip Clayton employed the use of a “roadometer” which was made of wooden cogs and gears that made use of the same rudimentary calculating methods that the later brass wheel odometer would use (you can see a reproduction of the original “Exodus Odometer” on the “Heritage Gateway” link below) . There is no doubt that yours, made most likely of brass, dates to a period much later, and is one used by a surveyor of the time (you can see an odometer like yours on the Corps of Engineers link below). These were relatively short lived as the invention of the automobile in the early 1900’s did away with the need for both “roadometers” and wagons. “LUNDS Auctioneers & Appraisers Ltd.” Recently sold one of these odometers at auction. The pre-sale price was estimated by Lund’s Auction at \$15.00 - \$20.00 CND (\$9.50 - \$12.68 USD). The device sold for \$22.00 CND (\$13.95 USD). You have a wonderfully interesting piece of Americana and it may very well sell for twice, or even three times that price to a collector of period antiques or memorabilia. An avid collector of survey equipment may offer a bit more. At the very least, it would make a welcomed gift or loan to your local museum should be inclined to do so. I hope you find this information interesting and useful. I look forward to working with you again in the near future. Best regards; Tutuzdad-ga Company B, United States Corps of Engineers - Topographical Engineers “Surveying & Mapping Equipment of the 1800’s” http://www.texasonline.net/people/adixon/topogs/Odometer.htm “LUNDS Auctioneers & Appraisers Ltd.” (See: 0200 - Odometer in case.) http://www.lunds.com/whatsnew/catalogue.asp?AucID=827 ““Soil Survey Field Method of the late 1890’s – early 1900’s” http://216.239.33.100/search?q=cache:_vTML3B3spgC:www.statlab.iastate.edu/soils/soildiv/ncss/issue5.pdf+early+brass+odometer&hl=en&ie=UTF-8 “THE CASPER STAR-TRIBUNE 1997 MORMON TRAIL COVERAGE” http://www.mormontrail.net/TRAIL97/WESTNEB/09jun1cm.html “Heritage Gateway – Replica of the Original Exodus Odometer” http://heritage.uen.org/cgi-bin/websql/query.hts?type=102&tid=51240 SEARCH STRATEGY ENGINE USED: Google ://www.google.com SEARCH TERMS: brass wagon wheel odometer 19th century brass odometer museum wagon odometer```
 layer2-ga rated this answer: `Answer was right on the money.`