Historical Collections


Factory of Empire Drill Company Factory of the Empire Drill Company. Located near a source of water power, this factory building at Shortsville is typical of nineteenth century, rural industry. The manufacturing of grain drills for agriculture began here in 1854.

From a State with a long history of significant manufactures, the tools and machinery of production, as well as the manufactured items from New York's factories, all have become part of the State Museum's collections.

Many of the Museum's tools are generic woodworking and metal working equipment such as saws, hammers, drills, planes, files, clamps and wrenches. Many of the Museum's nineteenth century hand tools exhibit a pleasing notable level of hand craftsmanship. Others implements are the products of large scale manufacture which produced less artistic but equally functional items.

Shaker hammer Shaker hammer. Cobbler's hammer acquired as a gift from Sisters Emma and Sadie Neale of the Mount Lebanon Shaker Community. The handle is of turned wood.

Some equipment in the Museum's collections is specialized for the production of distinct products. Here are such things as dies for making table spoons, chisels for carving stone, patterns for iron founding, patterns for the fabrication of wooden boats and jigs for painting sleigh components.

Industries represented by materials in the Museum include flatware, glove making, oar manufacture, rifle making, veneer making, wool carding, knitting and weaving, carriage making, cheese box manufacture, cider milling, grist milling, printing, water pump manufacture and broom making.

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Surveying compass Compass. Surveyor's compass with mahogany case manufactured c. 1910 by W. and L.E. Gurley in Troy. Gift of the Wunsch Americana Foundation, Inc.

Artifacts of measurement used in surveying, manufacture and scientific investigation are all represented in the State Museum's collections. The surveying instrument holdings are distinguished by the Gurley-Smart Collection, the gift in 1993 of Teledyne Industries, Inc. The nearly 200 historic instruments were gathered by Charles E. Smart at the venerable firm of W. and L. E. Gurley in Troy in mid-twentieth century. In addition to the instruments, Gurley company photographs, catalogues, advertising materials and twentieth century corporate records were received by the Museum from Teledyne. The transfer from the Smithsonian Institution to the State Education Department of the Gurley firm's nineteenth century archives has made the Museum the premier repository of Gurley material and an outstanding center for surveying instrument study.

Scales Scale. Silversmith's balance scale made by Herman Kohlbusch in New York City. Gift of the Wunsch Americana Foundation, Inc.

In addition to the Gurley-Smart accession, the Museum has another 40 surveying instruments as well as a number of navigational devices such as compasses and sextants. Within an institution of more than a century and half history of scientific research, the History Survey has preserved a small collection of microscopes, spectrometers, dip needles, rock hammers, scales and other equipment used by State Museum geologists and biologists in their work. The Museum also has a number of scales, gauges, meters. rulers and other measuring equipment used in domestic life, merchandising, agriculture, forestry and manufacturing.

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History Collections
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