Dietzgen Commander Wallet Case of Drawing Instruments

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This folding cardboard and wood case is covered with black leather and lined with blue velvet. The inside of the top flap is marked: DIETZGEN (/) COMMANDER (/) TRADE MARK (/) MADE IN U.S.A. The front flap folds open to reveal a leather pocket that held the following instruments (now stored separately):
1) 4" clear plastic semicircular protractor divided to single degrees and marked in both directions by tens from 10 to 170. The protractor is marked: DIETZGEN 1928.
2) 4" clear plastic semicircular protractor divided to single degrees and marked in both directions by tens from 10 to 170. The protractor is marked: NOBEMA, N. Y. C.
3) 8-1/2" clear plastic triangle marked: CARDINELL[E PROD]UCTS (/) PROPERTY AIR . . . MY.
4) 5-1/2" clear plastic triangle marked: DIETZGEN (/) EXCELLO (/) 2017A-4. The Dietzgen trademark is left of the mark, and a drawing of two right triangles on either side of an inverted T is right of the mark.
5) 6-1/4" clear plastic rectangular template with pictures of chemistry equipment. This object is cataloged separately as 1991.0811.02. It is almost certainly newer than the rest of the set.
The main compartment contains:
6) 5-3/4" German silver fixed-leg dividers. One leg is marked: DIETZGEN MADE IN U.S.A.
7) 6-1/4" German silver compass with removable pencil, pen, and needle points and extension bar. One leg is marked: DIETZGEN MADE IN U.S.A.
8) 4-3/4" German silver and steel curve pen. The adjusting screw is marked: DIETZGEN (/) U. S. A.
9) 5/8" German silver and glass center tack.
10) 5" steel and German silver railroad pen with chunky brown wooden handle. The handle is marked: PAT. PEND.
11) 2-3/4" metal handle.
12) 4-1/2", 5", and 5-3/8" steel and German silver drawing pens with chunky brown wooden handles. The tightening screw on each pen is marked: DIETZGEN (/) U. S. A.
13) 2-3/8" steel screwdriver. Its storage compartment is empty.
14) 1-1/2" cylindrical metal case for leads, also empty.
15) 4-1/4" German silver bow dividers, bow pencil, and bow pen. The side of one leg of each instrument is marked: DIETZGEN (/) MADE IN U. S. A. The legs are also marked: PAT. 2065472 (/) PAT. PENDING.
These instruments are heavily tarnished, probably from off–gassing by the plastic instruments. Adolph Langsner and William H. Lerch, both of Chicago, received patent number 2,065,472 for an improvement to the mounting used to secure the needle in bow instruments. They subsequently assigned the patent to the Eugene Dietzgen Company of Chicago.
Dietzgen introduced the American-made Commander line of drawing instruments between 1938 and 1942, when the preferred German-made instruments were unavailable due to World War II. Sets of Commander instruments were sold at least as late as 1954. However, this particular set was not found in Dietzgen catalogs. The company applied for the Excello trademark in 1945. NOBEMA was a German firm with an office in New York. No information was found on Cardinelle.
The donor reported that his uncle, Joseph Morrison, a master rigger at the Boston Naval Yard, received the set secondhand from a retired naval architect who may have used it during repairs to the U.S.S. Constitution between 1949 and 1954. Morrison procured the set for his brother, Edward Bradley Morrison, a World War II veteran who was studying interior design and drafting under the G.I. Bill.
References: Adolph Langsner and William H. Lerch, "Pin Mounting" (U.S. Patent 2,065,472 issued December 22, 1936); Catalog of Eugene Dietzgen Co., 15th ed. (Chicago, 1938); Eugene Dietzgen Company, Essential Drawing Instruments and Materials, cat. No. 42A (Chicago, 1942), 22–25; Catalog of Eugene Dietzgen Co., 16th ed. (Chicago, 1949), 116–119; Dietzgen School Catalog (Chicago, 1953–1954), 4–5.
Currently not on view
date made
Eugene Dietzgen Company
place made
United States
Physical Description
german silver (overall material)
steel (overall material)
wood (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
leather (overall material)
cloth (overall material)
overall: 5.2 cm x 25.8 cm x 16.5 cm; 2 1/16 in x 10 5/32 in x 6 1/2 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Edward A. Morrison in Honor of Joshua Bradley Morrison and in Memory of Edward Bradley Morrison
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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