Mathematical Charts and TablesTables for Monetary Transactions
Tables for Monetary Transactions
American merchants, bankers, and employers have used a wide range of tables to ensure the accuracy of monetary transactions. Some of these tables were produced for stand–alone use, while others were designed to aid those calculating with machines.
As early as 1812, Joseph Jelleff of New York State patented a disc with printed scales used for interest calculations. Versions of this instrument sold at least into the 1830s. William B. Leavitt of New Hampshire copyrighted a similar wooden instrument in 1845. A few years later, Samuel S. Young of Ohio patented a linear instrument for interest calculations. In 1867, Albert Pierson of New Jersey patented a rather different device, in which the tables were mounted on rotating prisms, for the same purpose. Manufacturers of computing machines, such as Felt & Tarrant Manufacturing Company of Chicago and the Marchant Calculating Machine Company of California distributed interest tables to assist those using their products.
Those assessing and paying taxes also used tables. In 1879, Robert Levin Mudd, a county clerk in Illinois, patented a device to ease the work of correctly accessing taxes. In the 1930s, New York entrepreneurs introduced the Costometer, which was designed in part to assist in calculating newly introduced Social Security taxes. Tables also were used for computing both markups and discounts on goods sold, and for finding the total cost of sales, as when multiplying the rate of shipping freight per pound by the number of pounds shipped. Sometimes it is unclear precisely why units used were chosen, as in a handwritten multiplication table collected from a Massachusetts manufacturer of shuttles for looms.
"Mathematical Charts and Tables - Tables for Monetary Transactions" showing 1 items.
- The Costometer is a set of mounted mathematical tables designed to allow a payroll clerk who knows an employee's rate of pay and hours worked to simultaneously find his or her total weekly wage, deductions for federal and state unemployment taxes, deductions for Social Security taxes, and the net pay after deductions. The device was introduced in 1936 to assist business computing payrolls in the wake of the U.S. Social Security Act. It was copyrighted that year by Dean Babbitt and LeRoi E. Hutchings, with contributions to the design by Herbert Austin Brown.
- The instrument has an iron frame painted black and rotating paper tables on a continuous loop. Fabric and a metal plate cover much of the tables. A sliding window associated with each table is moved across it to select the column of numbers to be used. Numbers along the edges of the windows assist in reading the tables. In the center of the sliding plate is a face that represents 60 minutes and 12 hours, presumably to aid in converting time to metric units. A central dial rotates 360 degrees and is numbered from 0 to 9. Cranks for moving the tables are on the sides (one of 4 cranks is missing in this example). A switch for an electric motor is on the left side. The machine has a dust cover.
- A mark on a plate on the front reads: Costometer (/) Corporation (/) New York, N.Y. (/) Made in United States of America. A mark on a small plate at the base of the back reads: A100Z1019. A mark on the tables reads: Copyright 1936 by Dean Babbitt and L.E. Hutchings. A mark on the front toward the back reads: Costometer (/) PATENT PENDING.
- No patent corresponding to this object has been found. This example came to the Smithsonian from the collection of Victor Comptometer Corporation, and quite probably was originally in the collection of Felt & Tarrant Manufacturing Company.
- “Mechanical Calculation Moves On,” Scientific American, 156 (February 1937): p. 114.
- “Business Opportunities,” New York Times, August 30, 1936, p. F10. The same ad ran on the same page September 6, 1936.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- ca 1937
- Costometer Corporation
- ID Number
- accession number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center