Slide RulesIndex by Material
Slide rules were sometimes distinctive by the materials from which they were made. Early rules were often made from boxwood and other woods. By the late 19th century, German manufacturers and Keuffel & Esser of New York City had not only switched to the more uniform and durable mahogany but were also coating the wood with early forms of plastic (celluloid). Around the turn of the 20th century, Japanese firms used bamboo, which did not expand and shrink as much as wood, thus reducing errors in the results of calculations. Later, Pickett slide rules were notable for their aluminum construction and proprietary yellow color. Although the rules tended to be less affordable and popular than wooden rules, manufacturers have used brass and other metals throughout the history of slide rules. Plastic and paper became increasingly widespread for inexpensive rules in the 20th century.
"Slide Rules - Index by Material" showing 1 items.
- This is an eight-inch, four-sided boxwood slide rule used for measuring and taxing barrels of liquid. On one end of the rule, the slides on each side have been labeled with the four Roman numerals, I, II, III, and IV. On side I, the base has logarithmic scales that run from 1 to 8 and from 8 to 100. It is labeled Seg St (Segments Standing) at the top left and SS at the bottom right. The slide has two identical C scales, logarithmically divided from 1 to 9. This side was used to estimate the volume of a barrel that was standing vertically and partially filled. The back of the slide lists calculating factors used in computing taxes on various liquors. For instance, the duty on one barrel of vinegar was equivalent to the duty on 7.56 barrels of small beer.
- On side II, the base has logarithmic scales that run from 0 to 4 and from 4 to 100. The bottom right corner is labeled SL (Segments Lying) for estimating the volume of a partially filled barrel lying on its side. The slide has two identical B scales, logarithmically divided from 1 to 10. The point 231 is marked W, showing the number of cubic inches in a wine gallon, and pi (314) is marked with a C. The back of the slide has a table of gauge points for converting between volumes in cubic inches and numbers of gallons for substances in square or circular containers.
- On side III, the base has an A scale, logarithmically divided from 1 to 10, and an MD (Malt Depth) scale that runs logarithmically in the opposite direction from somewhat less than 3 to 20. Point 2150 on the A scale is marked MB, for the number of cubic inches in a malt bushel, and point 282 is marked A, for the number of cubic inches in an ale gallon. The slide has two identical B scales, logarithmically divided from 1 to 9. The back of the slide has a scale of inches, a scale labeled Spheroid, and a scale labeled 2d Variety. These scales are for determining the diameters of two different shapes of barrels. Underneath the slide is marked: LEWIS & BRIGGS : Makers. No. 52. BOW. LANE. Cheapside. LONDON.
- On side IV, the base has a D scale, logarithmically divided from 1 to 3.2 and from 3.2 to 10. Point 17.15 is marked WG, for the diameter in inches of a cylinder that contains one gallon of wine when filled to a depth of one inch. Point 18.95 is marked AG for the diameter of a cylinder containing one gallon of ale. Point 46.3 is marked MS, for the side of a square vessel that contains a solid bushel per inch of depth, and point 52.32 is marked MR, for the side of a square vessel that contains a malt bushel per inch of depth.
- The slide has two identical C scales, logarithmically divided from 1 to 10. The back of the slide has a table of divisors for converting between volumes in cubic inches and numbers of gallons for substances in square or circular containers. The numbers in this table are squares of the gauge points in the table on the back of the slide on side II. Underneath the slide is marked: Willm. Wright : April. 30. 1795.
- According to Gloria Clifton, the firm of Lewis & Briggs operated in London from at least 1795 to 1799. The Smithsonian acquired this object in 1961.
- References: Colin Barnes, "The Customs and Excise Gauging Slide Rule," Journal of the Oughtred Society 4, no. 2 (1995): 53–57; Ron Manley, "Gauging," http://www.sliderules.info/a-to-z/gauging.htm; Gloria Clifton, Directory of British Scientific Instrument Makers (London: National Maritime Museum, 1995), 167.
- Currently not on view
- Currently not on view
- Currently not on view
- date made
- Lewis & Briggs
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center