Stereometry Made Easy, A Set of Geometric Models

From the 16th through the 19th centuries, English-speaking mathematicians referred to the measurement of solid bodies as stereometry. This set of forty-odd models, made in London in the mid-19th century, assisted in teaching the subject. According to the maker, the solids also were well suited for use by art students.
Included in the wooden box are a diagonal scale; three equal trapezoids, any two of which can be arranged to form a rectangle or a parallelogram; two equal triangles which together form a rectangle or a triangle; three equal quadrilaterals (with a fourth quadrilateral of the same size, they would form a square); and nine pieces that are lettered from a to i. Pieces a to c are equal oblique pyramids that can be arranged to form a cube. Pieces d to i are equal square pyramids which can be arranged to form a cube.
The set also includes eight pieces of a cube root block. The smaller cube of the cube root block is not labeled, and three of the other pieces are mislabeled. Also included are six equal triangular prisms, one longer triangular prism, two additional cubes, a cylinder, a tetrahedron, an icosahedron, two rectangular parallelepipeds, one oblique parallelepiped, one taller square pyramid, two triangular pyramids, and an irregular tetrahedron.
A discolored label on the lid of the box reads: STEREOMETRY (/) MADE EASY.
An example of the set in the library of Princeton University also includes several lithographed cards and an instruction booklet, published in 1853. The Catalogue of the Educational Division of the South Kensington Museum indicates that the set was made by Myers and Company of London. This example came to the Smithsonian from the Physics Department of Queens College of London University. An 1877 advertisement of A. N. Myers & Co. indicates that by that date, a set of 44 geometrical models sold in three sizes. This would correspond to the smallest size. As the advertised set contained 44 surfaces, it seems likely that one object in this example (perhaps the diagonal scale) was not part of the original.
Catalogue of the Educational Division of the South Kensington Museum, London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1876, p. 407.
Stereometry Made Easy: A Short Compendium of the Facts and Principles of that Instructive and Amusing Science: Intended as a Companion to the Collection of Solids, London: Thompson and Davidson, 1853.
“Educational and Amusing Publications of A. N. Myers & Co.,” A Catalogue of Works of Natural Science, Art, General Literature, Medicine &c. Published by Hardwick & Bogue, London, 1877, p. 1.
Currently not on view
Object Name
geometric models
date made
ca 1860
A. N. Myers & Company
Physical Description
paper (sticker on lid material)
wood (overall material)
average spatial: 5.7 cm x 21.6 cm x 19.1 cm; 2 1/4 in x 8 1/2 in x 7 17/32 in
place made
United Kingdom: England, London
associated place
United Kingdom: England, London
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Learning Arithmetic
Arithmetic Teaching
Science & Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


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