Instrument Makers: The Haggars

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Article taken from "Backsights" Magazine published by Surveyors Historical Society


by Dale Beeks

This family of Baltimore instrument manufacturers began with workings of Benjamin King Hagger (1769-1834).  First listed in the Boston directory in 1789 as a mathematical instrument maker, Benjamin moved to Baltimore around the year 1816 or 1817.  At least two of Benjamin King Hagger's instruments are known in private collections.  One is a wooden semi-circumferentor signed, "Made & sold by Benjamin K. Hagger, Boston".  Another later instrument that dates after 1816 is a brass plane compass signed, "Benjamin K. Hagger, Baltimore".

One of his two sons, William G. Hagger was born in Boston in the 1800.  His other son, John W. Hagger (1806-1858) was taken into partnership with his father around the year 1824.  The Baltimore directory lists "Benjamin K. Hagger and Son" from 1824-1838.  No listings for a partnership arose between the two brothers after the death of their father in 1834.  From 1842 to 1861 the Baltimore directories list, "Hagger & Bro", as mathematical instrument makers.

Sometime during the short span of years between 1834 and 1842, John W. Hagger was probably in business for himself.  A surveyor's vernier compass was located with an internal vernier and decoratively engraved face signed, "J. W. Hagger, Baltimore".  No listings or instruments signed by the elder brother, William G. Hagger, are known to exist.  Listings for various other Haggers, including a James S. listed in the Baltimore directories until 1875, may represent yet another generation of Hagger instrument makers in Baltimore.



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