Mc Pheeters Antique Militaria
Home Page About Us Ordering Information Links



EARLY 19TH CENTURY GUNNER’S PERPENDICULAR OR LEVEL – ca. 1802-1819 - EXTREMELY FINE ARTILLERY INSTRUMENT FROM THE NAPOLEONIC WAR ERA - MAKER MARKED:  This is an extremely fine example of the "New Pattern" Artillery Gunner's Perpendicular, or Level, manufactured during the first two decades of the 19Th Century, maker marked and bearing the “Broad Arrow” British Army acceptance stamp.  The “New Pattern” designation was assigned with the introduction of this instrument as it incorporated a spirit level as a new feature which replaced the earlier use of a plumb line.   

This rare Gunner’s Perpendicular can be dated through the recorded work history of the legible maker stamp, “BERGE LONDON” indicating Matthew Berge.  Berge was an apprentice, of Jesse Ramsden (1735-1800), one of the most celebrated eighteenth century scientific instrument makers in England and owner of the largest workshop of its kind in London, located at 119 Piccadilly and employing over 50 craftsmen.  When Ramsden died in 1800, he willed his workshop and inventions – which included the dividing engine, a means of measuring the increments on navigational instruments – to Berge who by that time was Ramsden’s shop foreman.  Those instruments currently under construction at the time of the transfer of ownership were marked “BERGE LONDON late RAMSDEN”.  Once those pieces were completed, all subsequent pieces produced under Berge’s ownership were marked as this Gunner’s Perpendicular is marked, “BERGE LONDON” – a style of marking believed to have begun no later than 1802 and ending with Berge’s death in 1819.  In addition to artillery implements, the shop produced such instruments as theodolites (survey scope), sextants, telescopes, and mechanical drawing sets.    

As an interesting aside, in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History is a sextant identified as the very instrument owned and used by Lt. John C. Fremont on his expedition to California in the 1840’s.  That sextant bears the maker’s stamp, “BERGE LONDON late RAMSDEN”. 

This Gunner’s Perpendicular bears the British Army’s acceptance stamp, the “Broad Arrow”, indicating that it passed inspection, however due to the excellent condition in which it has survived the almost two hundred years since its manufacture, this particular implement likely did not see much service.  This pattern of Gunner’s Perpendicular would have been in service on the battlefield as early as the Napoleonic Wars and our War of 1812, and continued in service through such historic conflicts as the Crimea War, the Zulu War, and probably was in use with Chinese Gordon at Khartoum.   

In the context of American History, this very pattern of Gunner’s Perpendicular may well have been imported by the Confederacy during our Civil War in conjunction with the artillery pieces the South purchased from England.   

One of the most sought after of the artillery accessories, the Gunner’s Perpendicular is not only a truly fine, high quality Ordnance implement, but it is also one of the most rare – particularly one as early as this specimen – as it is believed they were  issued at a rate of only one perpendicular for every six guns.  Employed when laying or positioning the guns, the perpendicular was used to determine the high point of the gun's base ring. That high point was then marked on the gun with chalk for use in aiming the gun. 

Measuring 4 ¾” high and 3 ½” across the feet, this perpendicular is fabricated of heavy brass plate and is complete with both steel feet, the sliding steel pointer and the spirit level.  The horizontal spirit level is firmly attached with the original screws and is defect free; the leveling bubble showing plainly in the glass viewer.  The pointer slides easily in the track that is integral to the main plate and it still retains the original fire blued finish with vibrant case colors.  The plate is legibly stamped “BERGE LONDON” and with the British Army “Broad Arrow” acceptance stamp.  The brass retains a beautiful aged patina that has not suffered from recent polishing.   

Showing no signs of wear, this early Gunner’s Perpendicular is in excellent condition and given the date range of manufacture, is in as close to “like new” condition as one could expect to find.  One of the key implements that are becoming increasingly difficult to find, this Gunner’s Perpendicular would be a key addition to a 19TH Century Artillery display or collection.  $3,500



Ordering Instructions

Identified Items  


Edged Weapons

Saddles and Horse Equipment


Collectors Ammunition

Uniforms, Insignia, Hats

Canteens and Mess Gear

Gun tools, Bullet molds and Parts

Field Equipment and Artillery

Original Ordnance Manuals, and Photos 

US Army Medical

Reference Books and Reprints