Mathematical Chart, Metric System

In the wake of the Revolution of 1789, French scientists developed a new system of weights and measures known in English-speaking countries as the metric system. A handful of early 19th-century American mathematics textbooks discussed metric measurements. In the 1860s, metric measures were legalized in the United States, although they were not mandatory. A few advocates of the new system, most notably the distinguished librarian Melville Dewey, joined together to form the American Metrological Society and to advocate the use of metric measures. This chart was prepared by the Society for classroom use.
The tan paper chart shows a meter length divided into decimeters, centimeters, and millimeters. It also shows a liter container and a block 1,000 cubic centimeters in size. It gives the value in United States currency of silver coins weighing from 1 gram to 1000 grams. A mark at the bottom front of the chart reads: Copies of this chart will be mailed on receipt of ten cents in postage stamps. (/) ADDRESS AMERICAN METROLOGICAL SOCIETY, 41 EAST 49TH ST., N.Y. CITY.
Science magazine noted publication of the chart in 1891, which is used as the approximate date of the object. This example was found uncatalogued in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries.
Currently not on view
Object Name
mathematical table
date made
ca 1891
American Metrological Society
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: .1 cm x 109.5 cm x 43.5 cm; 1/32 in x 43 1/8 in x 17 1/8 in
place made
United States: New York, New York City
ID Number
catalog number
nonaccession number
Science & Mathematics
Mathematical Charts and Tables
Measuring & Mapping
Metric System
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Metric System
Mathematical Charts and Tables
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Transfer from Smithsonian Institution Libraries

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Approved comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about your own artifacts or comment on their value, rarity, or collectibility.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.