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[Letterhead] Charles H. Brightly Philadelphia Mathematical Instrument Maker , 1870

 File — Box: SC Print Oversize, Box: 1, Item: 1

Scope and Contents

The item is a single invoice measuring 23.5 x 22 cm: upper left corner has a trade mark a transit within a scroll, beneath are the words engineering, surveying and astronomical instruments – terms net cash. The letterhead reads Philadelphia, …………….18…… Mr. …….. Bought of Charles H. Brightly, Mathematical Instrument Maker, 2910 North Sixteenth Street.


  • 1870

Access Restrictions

Collection housed remotely. Users need to contact 24 hours in advance.

Use Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Copyright Notice

Please inquire about copyright information.

Biographical / Historical

Charles H. Brightly (1817-1897) was born in England, came to the United States during the 1830s and worked as a machinist in Philadelphia before entering a partnership with Charles S. Heller (1839-1912) who was born in Germany. They entered into a partnership in 1870 under the name Heller & Brightly. Later Charles H. Brightly, mathematical instrument maker, was at 2910 North Sixteenth Street in Philadelphia. The business made theodolites, transits, levels, plane tables and surveyor rods. The firm’s reputation was to have “done more than any other firm in this country to late years to increase competition in the trade and to wake up the different makers to a sense of the many improvements that may be made in the instruments in common use.” Their instruments were used in every state in the U. S. as well as many countries around the world. The Heller and Brightly partnership was in effect from 1870 to 1889. During this time they produced 100 handmade instruments each year selling directly from the store. In 1880 Mr. Brightly was a contributing member of the Franklin Institute. The firm was incorporated in 1926 and in business until 1968. In 1894 Brightly along with H. M. Fuller and E. A. Singer Jr. of Philadelphia received Patent 515,815 for a device for centering a transit over physical points. Alternate names for the firm: Charles S. Heller, Heller & Brightly, Charles H. Brightly. His son Captain Charles H. Brightly, Jr. (1839?-1864) served in the Civil War and died of wounds received at the Battle of the Wilderness.


2 Leaves

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English


Example of a business stationery or letterhead of a Nineteenth century business concern in Philadelphia indicating that at the time Philadelphia was a leading center for scientific, engineering, surveying and astronomical instrument making.

Acquisition Information

Purchase, May 2016.

Related Materials

Special Collections has various letterheads in the collections.


Miller, Robert C. 1990. “The Heller & Brightly Records,” Rittenhouse 4, 43-55.

Repository Details

Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository

Lehigh University
Linderman Library
30 Library Drive
Bethlehem PA 18045 USA
610-758-6091 (Fax)