French-Style Sector Signed by Butterfield

This brass instrument has rectangular arms hinged at one end. The hinge is decorated with a flower on both sides. One side has double scales of chords, running from 10 to 140; of solids, running from 10 to 60; and for the specific weights of four metals, marked with their symbols. The outer edge of one arm has a scale that runs from 4 to 24 and is labeled poids des boulets. The sector is marked: Butterfield (/) AParis.
The other side has a double scale of equal parts that runs from 10 to 200; an unlabeled double scale that runs from 10 to 60 and is presumably for making architectural drawings; and a double scale for inscribed regular polygons, from 12 sides to three sides. The outer edge of one arm has a scale for Calibre des pices [sic] that runs from 4 to 24. Compare to MA*321676 and MA*321677.
Michael Butterfield (1635–1724) was an English instrument maker who worked in France from around 1677 until his death. He was best known for his distinctive sundials.
References: Maya Hambly, Drawing Instruments, 1580–1980 (London: Sotheby's Publications, 1988), 24, 134–135; Harriet Wynter and Anthony Turner, Scientific Instruments (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1975), 113.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Butterfield, Michael
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
overall: .4 cm x 17.2 cm x 3 cm; 5/32 in x 6 25/32 in x 1 3/16 in
place made
France: Île-de-France, Paris
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Science & Mathematics
Rule, Calculating
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. Albert Haertlein
Additional Media

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. Selected 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 the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

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.