George Washington's Surveying Equipment Sold

Some of George Washington's surveying instruments and an assortment of other personal items sold this month at auction for more than $167,000.  George Washington used the instruments when he served as a County Surveyor. 

The items were passed down through generations of Washington's family. Tom Slater, Heritage Auctions' director of Americana, said that while items related to Washington aren't rare, it is unusual to have pieces up for auction that have been kept in the family for so long.

The highest bid value was for George Washington's compass, which sold for $59,750.  A Gunter's Scale (a 24-inch wooden ruler that was a precursor to the slide rule) brought nearly $42,000. Both items sold for more than expected.  The auction company said the buyers asked to remain anonymous.


An archive of hundreds of Washington family papers dating from 1662 through 1835 brought $50,788, and several pieces of Washington's original coffin, including a handle, brought more than $12,000 total.  Family members said parting with the collection of papers will be most difficult.


"People can read these to get a sense of the times: There's a recipe for making cement," said Tom Washington, 62, a career counselor in Kirkland, Wash and a descendent of George Washington's brother, John Augustine Washington. He said his father, Nat Washington, a longtime state senator in Washington who died in 2007, had said in his will that he wanted the items sold.

Stuck Paying for Flood Insurance? You May Have Options…

Channel 5 Eyewitness News recently did a story about the inaccuracy of FEMA’s Flood Maps.  The maps are from the 70s and 80s and are broad in scope.  In the story they interviewed a property owner who had paid $36,000 in premiums over the last 23 years because they were shown in the flood zone.  When they went to sell their home, a new survey discovered their home should never have been identified as being on a flood plain.  

Many properties are incorrectly shown within the flood zone on the FEMA map.  To find out whether your house is one of them, a Land Surveyor can prepare a FEMA Elevation Certificate for your house.  This involves researching the location of the property on the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map and finding the nearest point of known elevation (or benchmark). The surveyor will go out to the property and transfer an elevation from the benchmark to the building in question.  He will also take other elevations and pictures as required by FEMA.

If the flood boundary was inaccurately shown on the FEMA map, the property owner can request a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) from FEMA.  A licensed Professional Land Surveyor can assist the property owner with this process.

In most cases, the cost for this work isless than one year’s flood insurance premium.  So far this year we have assisted 5 homeowners in eliminating the need for paying flood insurance.

If you or your lender is questioning the need for flood insurance, you should talk to a Land Surveyor who is familiar with the FEMA regulations.   

New 2011 ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey Standards

The American Land Title Association (ALTA) and the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) have revised the ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey requirements for 2011. 

This is the first significant rewrite of the Standards since they were first adopted in 1962.  They became effective 2/23/11. 

The basic principle of the ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey is to create minimum standards for the survey so that insurers, lenders, owners, and others can rely on a professional-quality survey that is uniform, complete and accurate. 

Typically an ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey is required to obtain Title Insurance on commercial property.  There are some exceptions to this, but commercial property is the most common area that we see.

 From a Surveyors’ viewpoint some of the most notable changes are:

The location, size, and type of monument are required to be noted on the survey.

The surveyor is required to be provided with the adjacent recorded property deeds and to compare the legal description with the   subject legal description to determine if there are any gaps or overlaps between them.

All visible improvements within 5 feet of the property lines are to be located and mapped on the survey.

The survey must show all monuments used to establish the property boundary lines. 

The recording data of adjoining properties and all plats must be stated on the survey.

A vicinity map is now required.

The email address of the surveyor is required.

Current zoning classifications and building setbacks or restrictions, if requested in Table A, are to be provided by the insurer.

The new Standards will provide more property details for lenders, insurers and owners.  Most notably is the requirement that the Surveyor thoroughly reviews the property’s legal description with the adjoining property descriptions and notes if any conflicts that may exist. 

Otto Associates has completed an ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey under the new requirements. Many of the 2011 requirements were already being provided by us under the previous Standards.  Therefore, we support the new Standards since they will impose a higher standard of care for all Surveyors.

If you’d like to review the new Table A form, we posted it on the RESOURCES page of our website.  And as always, feel free to contact us if you have questions or need an ALTA/ACSM Survey prepared.