Surveyor's chain, with cover, metal / leather, maker unknown, used by surveyor George Davison, Australia, c. 1920-1977
When George Emanuel Davison died in 1983, at age 94, he was the oldest Registered Surveyor in New South Wales. He was born in 1889 at Arncliffe. He joined the NSW Lands Department in 1908 as a cadet surveyor and then served articles with Surveyors Alcock and Harnett and qualified on 14 April 1914 (certificate 1222). He rejoined the Lands Department and worked with them until March 1950. He then continued to work as a free lance surveyor doing his last work in Kangaroo Valley on behalf of the Sydney Bush Walking Club when he was 88 years old.
He purchased this surveyor's chain some time in the late 1920s and he used it for the rest of his surveying career. The chain is not remarkable in its own right being a standard instrument of the time but it is part of collection of surveying equipment and an archive of papers and photograph that illustrate the working life of a surveyor in the first half of the 19th century.
During his time in the field with the Lands Department George Davison usually lived under canvas and travelled by horseback. He would be away for months and sometimes his wife would accompany him. There are photographs showing the camp and and George and his wife's tent including her personal effects.
George worked in many areas of New South Wales including the areas around Hay and Wagga Wagga, The Snowy Mountains, Armidale, Grafton, Forbes and Condoblin. His topographic work done in the Snowy Mountains was commended at the opening of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme. SMHEA engineers were very impressed at the accuracy of the maps produced from his measurements which were done without the aid of stereometric equipment and aeroplanes.
The significance of this equipment lies primarily in its being a collection of tools and associated ephemera which provide a wonderful illustration of George Davison and the working life of a surveyor at the time of his career.