Paisley Calculator Model A Cylindrical Slide Rule

This slide rule consists of two white celluloid bands, each about one inch wide and twenty inches long, that revolve within an elliptical brown and black Bakelite case. The case has clear plastic windows on both sides. Five green indicator lines appear on each of the windows. The bands are printed with identical logarithmic scales; the left is marked A, and the right is marked B. Two knurled knobs rotate the bands. Large round metal pins inside the knobs can be locked to force the bands to rotate in unison.
The instrument fits in a brown canvas bag. When it was received, it had a sticker on one side, near the base, that read: PAISLEY (/) MODEL (/) A (/) PITTSBURGH. Both sides near the base read: PAISLEY CALCULATOR. Both sides of the case are marked: PAT.APP.FOR. Both bands are marked: ©1940—PAISLEY CALCULATOR COMPANY, INC. The edge of the A band is also marked: TAPE NO. 3; BASTIAN BROS. CO. ROCHESTER N.Y. Company and union logos appear on either side of the second mark.
James R. Paisley of Pittsburgh, Pa., copyrighted the A and B scales of the Paisley Calculator on February 23, 1939. The Paisley Calculating [sic] Company of Pittsburgh copyrighted the phrase, "Paisley calculator a whiz at figures," on March 23, 1939. A James R. Paisley died in Pittsburgh on March 2, 1960, while the Social Security Death Index indicates that there was a man named James R. Paisley who lived from 1901 through 1987, dying in Wheeling, W. Va., in 1987.
No patents associated with Paisley or the Paisley Calculator Company have been located, nor have any advertisements other than a new product notice issued by Office Machines Research, Inc., in 1939. Although this notice indicated the instrument would be made in Carnegie, Pa., presumably Paisley arranged for production with Bastian Brothers of Rochester, N.Y., which has been manufacturing lapel pins, medals, and commemorative items since 1895. The slide rule was expected to sell for $25.00. Since there is so little documentation for the instrument, it likely was produced only for a short time. Thus, this example was probably made near the 1940 copyright date shown on it.
References: Office Machines Research, Inc., "Preliminary Report on a New Product," American Office Machines Research Service 1 (October 1939): section 4.2; Library of Congress, Catalog of Copyright Entries . . . for the Year 1939 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1940), 410, 633; Wayne Feely, "The Paisley Slide Rule," The Chronicle of the Early American Industry Association 49, no. 4 (1996): 113; Tom and Nancy McAdams, "Woodlawn Cemetery Section 3," Woodlawn Cemetery Association, Pittsburgh, Pa., October 2000,; "Bastian Company Profile,"
Currently not on view
Object Name
calculating rule
slide rule
date made
Bastian Brothers Company
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
paper (part material)
metal (part material)
canvas (case material)
overall: 4.2 cm x 25.5 cm x 10 cm; 1 21/32 in x 10 1/32 in x 3 15/16 in
place made
United States: New York, Rochester
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Rule, Calculating
Science & Mathematics
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 R. G. Rolfe
Additional Media

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