Mathematical Charts and TablesTables for General Reckoning
Tables for General Reckoning
Multiplication tables were among those most frequently produced for general use. Some people apparently just cut tables out of books for their particular purposes. In 1857, James D. Smith of Brantingham, New York, patented a “machine for multiplying numbers” that consisted of a wooden disc engraved with tables and a rotating stylus. At the turn of the century, a patented paper instrument of this type actually sold. At about the same time, Stanislas Szenhak of Warsaw (now in Poland) took out a U.S. patent for an especially designed multiplication table that could be fit around the eraser end of a pencil, with a metal cover that made it easier to find results. Such a pencil multiplier actually was manufactured in Illinois.
Some of these tables could by quite elaborate. In the 1870s, British accountant John Sawyer devised a set of bound tables with slips that could be turned to set up problems of interest. His procedures replaced multiplication and division by addition and subtraction. Most of those doing extensive multiplications and divisions at the time preferred to add and subtract logarithms of numbers, but Sawyer’s process allowed one to get results exactly. In the 1930s the American mathematician John Perry Ballantine proposed replacing slide rules with a set of tables in which the results of multiplication, division, and taking square roots could be read off directly, rather than requiring an awareness of significant figures.
"Mathematical Charts and Tables - Tables for General Reckoning" showing 1 items.
- Printed multiplication tables have long been included as parts of general introductions to arithmetic and its applications in business. This table, which shows multiples of integers from 1 times 1 through 25 times 25, contains larger numbers than those found in most elementary texts. It also has no printing on the back. This suggests that it may have been printed as a broadside to be used separately.
- An inscription in pencil on the back reads: Francis Lincoln (/) Fiskale (/) Mass.” Fiskale (known also as Fiskdale) is an area of Sturbridge, Massachusetts. The object was a donation of George H Watson of Sturbridge.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- ca 1850
- ID Number
- accession number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center