Drawing InstrumentsBox & Magazine Cases
Large, multi-layered cases have been made throughout the history of sets of drawing instruments. Besides drawers, some of these wooden boxes have compartments that fold out from the lid or from the base. Unlike the half-dozen or so instruments in pocket cases, these cases could hold twenty or thirty drawing implements. The materials used to line the cases have changed over time, from the pink felt applied by J. D. Weickert's workshop in the 18th century to the satin and velvet that were commonplace in the 19th and 20th centuries. As can be seen on the next page, foam was introduced in the late 20th century. Brass hooks and eyes were often attached to fasten the lids; other cases could be locked with a key. American firms that sold these sets of instruments included Widdifield & Co. and Frost & Adams, both of Boston, and William Minifie of Baltimore.
"Sets of Drawing Instruments - Box & Magazine Cases" showing 1 items.
- By the 17th century, makers of scientific instruments collected together a range of tools useful for making drawings in surveying, navigation, architecture, and engineering and sold these collections as sets in cases. Sets of drawing instruments allow modern observers to examine a variety of drawing instruments—such as dividers, compasses, pens, rulers, and protractors—at one time. They also provide a sense of what makers and practitioners thought someone starting to work in one of these fields needed in order to be successful.
- Marks on the proportional dividers and calipers indicate that the workshop of J. D. Weickert of Leipzig, Germany, manufactured this set. This firm, better known for making felt for piano hammers, was established in 1783 and remains in business as of 2013 (as Filzfabrik Wurzen). The style and condition of the multilayered case suggest the set was made no later than the mid-19th century. The donor received this set of instruments from a distant relative, Gunther Mathies, who emigrated from Germany in the early 20th century and worked for the Thomaston Clock Company in Connecticut.
- Two semicircular brass protractors are inside the lid of this plain wooden case lined with pink felt. The handle is missing from the case, and one hinge is broken. The first protractor is hand-divided to single degrees and numbered in both directions by tens from 10 to 180. Underneath the left side of the arc is marked: R. 1/4 F. A plotting scale with a diagonal scale at the left is on the base of the instrument. The second protractor is divided to quarter-degrees and numbered in both directions by tens from 10 to 180. A movable arm with an adjustable blade is attached around the origin point. Two plotting scales are on the base of the instrument. One is marked: Paris.Zoll. The other is marked: Rheinb.Zoll.
- Both layers of the case have empty spaces for instruments and instruments that do not fit properly into their spaces, suggesting that parts of the set have been lost or replaced. All of the instruments are brass and steel. The first layer has an L-shaped set square; two screws and a hinge that were originally attached to the case lid; three joint tighteners; and a drawing pen. A pair of dividers has rotating legs with pen and pencil points at the other ends. There are two more pairs of dividers, one with one point removed and stored separately in the case. Two pen points, one pencil point, and a leg extension do not appear to fit the instruments in the case. Bow dividers and three-legged dividers are also on this layer.
- The second layer has a narrow (2-1/2" wide) beam compass with a handle; an elliptical trammel; calipers attached to a 6-5/8" rule; and proportional dividers. The rule has scales for German and French inches on one side. This side is also marked: J. D. Weickert in Leipzig. The other side has scales for English inches and for units of 5/16". The second scale is marked: Circum. Verniers are on both edges of the rule, next to the calipers. The proportional dividers are heavily tarnished. One side has scales for polygons and straight lines. That side is also marked: Weickert in Leipzig.
- References: Maya Hambly, "Cases of Drawing Instruments," in Drawing Instruments, 1580–1980 (London: Sotheby's, 1988), 150–193; "History of the Felt Factory," http://www.filzfabrik-wurzen.de/de/51/company/history.
- Currently not on view
- Currently not on view
- date made
- 1783-ca 1850
- Weickert, J. D.
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center