Keuffel & Esser 1740 Thacher Cylindrical Slide Rule

This rule has a cylindrical hollow brass drum, which is covered with paper printed with 40 A scales. The first A scale runs from 100 to 112; the fortieth runs from 946 to 100 to 105. The paper is also printed in italics on the right side: Patented by Edwin Thatcher [sic], C.E. Nov. 1st 1881. Divided by W. F. Stanley, London, 1882. A wooden handle is attached to each end of the drum, and the drum slides in both directions.
The drum fits inside an open rotating frame to which 20 brass slats are fastened. The slats are lined with cloth and covered with paper. The paper on each slat is printed with two B and two C scales. The first B scale runs from 100 to 112; the fortieth runs from 946 to 100 to 105. The first C scale runs from 100 to 334; the fortieth runs from 308 to 325. The frame is attached to a mahogany base, and the object is housed in a mahogany case. A paper label appears to have been removed from the top of the case.
A paper of directions and rules for operating THACHER'S CALCULATING INSTRUMENT is glued to the top front of the base. A metal tag attached to the top back of the base is engraved: Keuffel & Esser (/) New York. The front right corner of the frame is stamped with numbers: 57 and 35. Presumably one of these is the serial number, but which one is not clear. In either case, the low number and the shape of the frame suggest that this example is the earliest Thacher cylindrical slide rule in the collections. Model 1740 sold for $30.00 in 1887.
Robert B. Steffes of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics donated this instrument to the Smithsonian in 1970.
See also MA*312866 and 1987.0107.08.
References: Wayne E. Feely, "Thacher Cylindrical Slide Rules," The Chronicle of the Early American Industries Association 50 (1997): 125–127; Catalogue of Keuffel & Esser (New York, 1887), 128. This was the first K&E catalog to list the model 1740.
Currently not on view
Object Name
calculating rule
slide rule
date made
Keuffel & Esser Co.
Stanley, William Ford
Physical Description
wood (part material)
paper (part material)
brass (overall material)
cloth (part material)
overall: 15.3 cm x 60.8 cm x 17.5 cm; 6 1/32 in x 23 15/16 in x 6 7/8 in
place made
United States: New York, New York
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
U.S. National Government, executive branch
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 Robert B. Steffes
Additional Media

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