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Cajori, Florian, The Chequered Career of Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler, New York: Arno Press, 1980 (reprint of original 1929 ed.). ISBN 0-405-12535-6. 20xl3cm., 245pp., portrait, cloth. (Box 958, Salem, NH 03079, $21.00)

Whenever the United States has needed something new, it has traditionally turned to Europe.  The Declaration of Independence and Constitution were based on European ideals, imported officers helped fight the Revolution, European scientists put American science on its feet before World War II, and German rocket engineers put Americans on the moon.  While stealing ideas and people is easy (the Russians have been doing it for centuries), the real trick is picking which ideas and people to steal.  Hassler, the first Superintendent of the Coast Survey, was born in Switzerland in 1770 and arrived in America in 1805 with an enormous amount of luggage, including one of the standard meters, and modern scientific instruments.  His tale is too convoluted to relate here, but since Coast Survey maps are a staple of the American antique map market, dealers might want to read about the formative years of that organization.

David C. Jolly, 1989

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