The Antique Scientific Instruments of Sydney William Stokes
Theodore Bruce is delighted to bring to auction a wonderful selection of antique scientific instruments belonging to the eminent surveyor, Sydney William Stokes. A former President of the Institution of Surveyors NSW, Stokes embraced innovation, and many of his antique instruments – including early calculating machines, theodolites and drafting equipment – are included in this auction.
A Leading Surveyor & Engineer
Born in Newcastle in 1887, S. W. Stokes was educated in Bowenfels and Sydney Grammar School. He completed first year engineering with the University of Sydney and finalised his training with the Metropolitan Water & Sewerage Draining Board (MWS&DB).
Stokes served with the Australian Intelligence Corps during WW1, and after the war, set up shop at 48 Elizabeth Street, Sydney. From 1926 he practiced in partnership with A. W. Miller as S. W. Stokes & Miller, with the firm overseeing projects in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Western Sydney, and the Central Coast.
Stokes was also a registered local government engineer from the 1930s, a Justice of the Peace and Freemason, and he campaigned (unsuccessfully) to be elected to the Council of the City of Sydney. He was active in the Institution of Surveyors NSW from 1925, and President from 1932-33. Stokes continued his private practice until the late 1960’s, passing away in 1972 at the age of 85.
Embracing Quality Scientific Instruments
As a surveyor and engineer, Stokes used a variety of scientific instruments to measure and assess – such as very early calculating machines from Marchant and Grimme Natalis & Co, large circular slide rules, parallel rules, timber scales, and drafting instruments.
Of particular note is his collection of vintage and antique theodolites – precision optical instruments used to measure angles both horizontally and vertically. Both traditional and digital theodolites are still used today by surveyors, engineers and meteorologists – and you can find interesting examples in museum collections, including the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.
Another favourite of Stokes was a Fullers Spiral Slide Rule with a detachable handle. These rules were used for various calculations, with for instance, the inner roll including a single spiral logarithmic scale, a sliding outer roll with decimal, conversion and sine tables, and a brass arm to pinpoint the calculation. Stoke’s rule was made by Stanley London, which manufactured about 14,000 of the Fuller slide rules between 1878 and 1973.
The surveying equipment and instruments have been included in the auction by SW Stokes’ descendants, the Dixon Hughes and Brightwell families, in the hope that they may be treasured by others who can appreciate and benefit from their significance and value.
The surveying equipment and instruments have been included in the auction by SW Stokes' descendants, the Dixon Hughes and Brightwell families, in the hope that they may be treasured by others who can appreciate and benefit from their significance and value.
The Contents of a Castle Cove Home
The S. W. Stokes instruments are being offered as part of The Contents of a Castle Cove Home. The collection features an eclectic selection of antiques, homewares, furniture and collectables, ranging from a beautiful Moorcroft Pansy Vase to a fiberglass dinghy, a G Schwechten Upright Piano, mid century glass, English porcelain and silverware.
The Contents of a Castle Cove Home | Onsite
Sunday 4 February | 11am
Pictured: A Nippon Keiki MFG & Co Ltd Barograph, Model no. 1726