Routledge's Engineer Linear Slide Rule

This is a two-foot, two-fold boxwood rule with a brass hinge and endpieces. Half of one side is a slide rule with A and D scales on the base and B and C scales on the slide. As with MA*306697.01, the C scale is the same as the A and B scales (the square of the D scale), instead of the same as the D scale, as on modern Mannheim slide rules. Below the D scale is marked: SQUARE CYLINDER GLOBE (3 times) ROUTLEDGE'S ENGINEER.
The first three marks form headings for the tables on the other half of this side when the instrument is folded. The tables give conversion factors from the volumes of geometric solids to units of volume, in both the "old" and imperial systems; conversion factors from the volumes of geometric solids to the weights in pounds of various substances; the areas of polygons from 5 to 12 sides; the gauge points of a circle; and gauge points for pumping engines, to find the diameters of steam cylinders that will work pumps of specified diameter at 7 pounds per square inch.
The other side has a scale of 24 inches along one edge, divided to sixteenths of an inch for 9 inches and to eighths of an inch for the rest of the scale. There are also scales for making scale drawings that are 1, 3/4, 1/2, and 1/4 inches to the foot. This side is marked: T. ASTON THE ORIGINAL MAKER WARRANTED. One outside edge has scales for 10 and 12 parts to the inch; the other outside edge divides one foot into 100 parts.
This form of slide rule was invented by Joshua Routledge, a seller of iron goods, in 1808 or 1809. He discussed it in the 1813 (4th) edition of Instructions for the Engineer's Improved Sliding Rule. According to Gloria Clifton, there were two rule makers named Thomas Aston, presumably a father and son, who were in business at various addresses in Birmingham, England, from 1818 to 1862. The references to pre-imperial system units of measure suggest the rule might have been made shortly after the imperial system was adopted in 1824. This instrument was found in the home of Grace Speer, granddaughter of Alfred Speer (1823–1910), an inventor and wine merchant in Passaic, N.J.
References: John V. Knott, "Joshua Routledge 177[3]–1829," Journal of the Oughtred Society 4, no. 2 (1995): 25; Philip E. Stanley, "Carpenters' and Engineers' Slide Rules: Routledges' Rule," Chronicle of the Early American Industries Association 37, no. 2 (1984): 25–27; Gloria Clifton, Directory of British Scientific Instrument Makers (London: National Maritime Museum, 1995), 11–12; accession file.
Currently not on view
Currently not on view
Object Name
calculating rule
slide rule
date made
Aston, T.
Physical Description
boxwood (overall material)
brass (part material)
overall: .3 cm x 31.6 cm x 4.5 cm; 1/8 in x 12 7/16 in x 1 25/32 in
place made
United Kingdom: England, Birmingham, Birmingham
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Science & Mathematics
Rule, Calculating
Engineering, General
Slide Rules
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Slide Rules
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Leila D. Lovelace
Additional Media

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