Set of Drawing Instruments

This wooden case is covered with black leather and lined with purple velvet. Several circles have been drawn on the top of the lid. The velvet inside the lid folds out to reveal a 6-3/4" wooden straight edge; a 3-1/2" metal L-shaped square; a 3-3/8" metal semicircular protractor divided to single degrees and numbered by tens from 10 to 170; and a 6" ivory plotting scale with one scalloped end. The plotting scale has diagonal scales at both ends. Above it are scales divided to 1/10" and numbered by ones from 6 to 1, and divided to 1/12" and numbered by tens from 50 to 10. The back of the plotting scale has a scale of chords and scales dividing the inch into 45, 40, 35, 30, 25, and 20 parts.
The bottom of the case has four pairs of German silver and steel dividers. Two pairs have a removable leg and are 5-3/8" long, one pair has fixed legs and is 4-7/8", and one pair has a removable leg and is 3-3/4". A pencil point is a little bit too short for the longest dividers, and a pen point is a little bit too long for the longest dividers. Another pen point and pencil point fit the shortest pair of dividers. A 2-3/4" drawing pen has a very short cylindrical handle. Three empty slots suggest that some of the original instruments in the set are missing. One slot is round for a ceramic cup; compare to 1990.0115.01.
The set was found in the Museum collections in 1979 with objects that suggest an association with Cleveland Abbe (1838–1916), an American engineer, astronomer, and meteorologist who worked for the U.S. Weather Service from 1871 until shortly before his death.
Reference: accession file.
Currently not on view
Currently not on view
Object Name
drawing instruments, set of
date made
19th century
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
leather (overall material)
fabric (overall material)
german silver (overall material)
ivory (overall material)
steel (overall material)
overall: 2.5 cm x 20.5 cm x 10.2 cm; 31/32 in x 8 1/16 in x 4 1/32 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Science & Mathematics
Drafting, Engineering
Drawing Instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Drawing Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Additional Media

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