Cathetometer

Description
A cathetometer is an upright ruler equipped with a telescope that is designed to measure the vertical difference between two points with great accuracy. The form A cathetometer is an upright ruler equipped with a telescope that is designed to measure the vertical difference between two points with great accuracy. The form was introduced in Paris around 1815 and the name around 1847.
This example came from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and probably dates from around 1894 when Bowdoin opened its new Science Building. The signature—SOCIÉTÉ GENEVOISE / Pour la Construction / D’Instrumente de Physique / GENÈVE—refers to a Swiss firm that provided many instruments to American colleges and universities in the late 19th century. This large instrument sits on a tri-leg base, and reads by vernier to 1/50 of a millimeter. New it cost 900 Swiss francs.
Ref: D. J. Warner, “Cathetometers and Precision Measurement: The History of an Upright Ruler,” Rittenhouse 7 (1993): 65–75.
Société Genevoise, Illustrated Price List of Physical and Mechanical Instruments (Geneva, 1900), p. 27.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
cathetometer
maker
Societe Genevoise d’Instruments de Physique
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
iron (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 33 in x 16 in x 13 3/4 in; 83.82 cm x 40.64 cm x 34.925 cm
place made
Switzerland
ID Number
1993.0398.01
accession number
1993.0398
catalog number
1993.0398.1
subject
Science & Mathematics
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Bowdoin College

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