Set of Drawing Instruments

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This wooden case has an inlay for a label on its top, but the inlay is not marked. The lock is broken. The case is lined with blue paper and velvet. A compartment inside the lid has space for a transparent plastic protractor, divided to single degrees and numbered by tens from 0 to 180. (Due to the deterioration of the plastic, the protractor is stored separately.) The bottom of the case, underneath a tray of drawing instruments, contains: a 5-1/8" German silver and steel drawing pen with ivory handle; a 5-1/2" ebony triangle with corners marked 45, 45, and 90; and a 6-1/2" wooden rule.
One side of the rule has four scales, divided to roughly: 1/4", numbered by ones from 1 to 19; 3/4", numbered by ones from 6 to 1; 1/2", numbered by ones from 1 to 9; and 1", numbered by ones from 4 to 1. The ends of the scales have unusual diagonal scales for 1/4", 1/2", 3/4", and 1". The other side has a scale of chords and scales dividing the inch into 60, 50, 45, 40, 35, and 30 parts.
The tray contains: 6-1/2" brass and steel drawing pen with ebony handle; 6-1/2" brass compass with pencil point and removable leg; extension bar, divider point, and pen point for the compass; 2-3/8" steel pencil, pen, and divider points for a small compass not included in the set; 2-1/8" brass and steel drawing pen; and 3" brass and steel bow pen. None of the instruments are signed.
A pen wipe cloth, cake of ink, cylindrical wooden case holding seven pencil leads, and rubber were also received with the set. The rubber is marked: NEWMAN'S (/) PURPLE LAKE (/) SOHO SQUARE. The cloth is signed by Charles M. Higgins, an inventor and manufacturer of inks and pens from Brooklyn, N.Y.
The set was owned by the donor's grandfather, Frederick Dawson Thorns (1830–1911). He worked in an ironmonger's shop in England before moving in 1855 to Brooklyn, N.Y., where he held various jobs before operating a restaurant, opening an auction house, and selling real estate. He moved to Asheboro, N.C., to live with one of his daughters in the late 19th century.
Reference: 1910 U.S. Census records; accession file.
Currently not on view
date made
late 19th century
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
paper (overall material)
fabric (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
brass (overall material)
steel (overall material)
ivory (overall material)
overall: 3.9 cm x 20.5 cm x 11.8 cm; 1 17/32 in x 8 1/16 in x 4 21/32 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Beatrice Bulla
Drafting, Engineering
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Drawing Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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