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George Washington's surveying equipment to be sold

Surveying equipment that was once used by the USA's founding father, George Washington, is to be sold in a highly anticipated auction to be held in Texas this weekend.

The auction will be selling hundreds of small items belonging to the nation's first president - including somewhat macabre parts of his original coffin, as well as papers and letters - but it is some of his prized land surveying tools that are expected to attract the highest bids.

A compass is expected to sell for more than $40,000, while a Gunter's Scale - a 24-inch wooden ruler that was a precursor to the slide rule - is likely to fetch in excess of $30,000. Tom Slater, the director of Americana for the organising auction house, Heritage Auctions, said that the items had all come directly from direct descendants of the president himself and had been in the family since his death in 1799.

Tom Washington, 62, a descendant of George Washington’s brother, John Augustine Washington, who works as a career counsellor, said he had been left them by his father, Nat Washington, who stipulated in his will that he wanted them sold.

"There is ... some sadness," Tom said. "There's just various kinds of emotions."

Slater said he thinks the surveying equipment will generate particular excitement among people interested in Washington's early life, prior to his appointment as commander-in-chief of the continental army during the Revolutionary War and the nation’s first president in 1789.

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