Scale RulesCalculating Rules
In addition to length measurements, scale rules could be marked with aids for calculation. Perhaps the most notable rule of this type was Gunter's scale, which was similar to a sector or a slide rule. Gunter's scales are named after Edmund Gunter, a 17th-century English mathematical practitioner who figured out how to put a table of logarithms on a rule so that logarithmic calculations could be made with the aid of dividers. These instruments were especially handy for mathematicians and navigators.
The mathematics collections contain several other objects, ranging from the 18th to the 20th centuries, that were used to simplify computations for tasks including designing sundials, keeping track of calendar dates, and plotting data for aeronautical engineering. A few of these rules were designed specifically for positioning artillery.
"Scale Rules - Calculating Rules" showing 1 items.
- The scales on this three-foot wooden rule are drawn in red and black ink on paper attached to both sides of the instrument. The left end of one side is marked: A DiALLiNg SCALE [sic]. A brass hanger is screwed into the left end. This side has an hour line, a line of latitude, a line of chords, a scale of inches divided to 1/8" and numbered by ones from 1 to 12, another line of chords, another line of latitude, and another hour line. The last three scales are approximately 3/4 the length of the first three scales. For example, the first hour line is 18" long and the second is almost 13" long.
- The middle of this side has two diagrams for calculating the gnomon rods of sundials. Next are two more sets of three scales (hour line, line of latitude, and line of chords). These scales are shorter than the first two sets of scales, with the hour line for the third set measuring 6-3/8" and the fourth hour line measuring 7-3/4". Drawings of a sun and a sundial are at the right end of this side. The side is covered with brass studs for affixing pins while making up gnomons.
- The other side has diagrams for a line of inclination; a line of chords; an hour line; lines of chords and latitudes; lines of longitude, chords, latitude, and rhumbs; and an hour line. Two drawings of sundial platforms are at the right end. An oak and pine case is fastened with a metal hook. Presumably a craftsman used this rule to make sundials. The Smithsonian acquired this object in 1961.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- mid 18th century
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center