E. O. Richter & Co. 2330 Set of Drawing Instruments Sold by Frederik Preisler

This wooden bar-lock case is covered with black leather and lined with dark blue velvet. The top is marked: Präcision (/) D. P. (/) E. O. Richter & Co. Between the letters D and P is the Richter trademark of a backwards E, O, and R, superimposed on each other. The lower left corner of the top is also marked: [Fre]derik Preisler (/) Kjøbenhavn. Carved in the back of the case is the mark: H. T. FRIIS. The set includes:
1) 6" aluminum, German silver, and steel drawing pen marked: CORN.KNUDSEN. Trademarks of two superimposed dividers are on either side of the mark. The object is cataloged separately as 1985.0909.02.
2) 3-3/16" and 2-11/16" German silver handles. The smaller handle holds four needle points.
3) Two 1-1/2" steel pen points that do not appear to fit any of the compasses in the set.
4) 6" German silver and steel fixed-point dividers. The center hinge is marked: Richter. The Richter trademark is to the right of the mark.
5) 4-1/2" German silver compass with pencil point. The center hinge is marked: Richter. The Richter trademark is to the right of the mark.
6) 2-3/4" and 2-1/2" German silver and steel screwdrivers. The first screwdriver is marked: FRANCE 6. It is cataloged separately as 1985.0909.03. The second screwdriver matches the handles and appears to be original to the set.
7) 6-1/4" German silver drawing compass with removable pencil and pen points and extension bar. The center hinge is marked: Richter. The Richter trademark is to the right of the mark.
8) 4-3/4" German silver drop spring bow pencil marked: D. R. Pat. The Richter trademark is between the letter R and "Pat."
9) 4-1/2" German silver bow dividers. The side of one leg is marked: D. R. P. The Richter trademark is below the mark.
10) Two 5-1/8" and one 4" leads, all marked: SSWS MADE U.S.A. U.S. PAT. 1,832,654 (/) 3H EAGLE TURQUOISE ® ELECTRONIC 3H. (The shortest lead is marked 2H instead of 3H.) These items are cataloged separately as 1985.0909.04.
E. O. Richter & Co. of Chemnitz, Germany, sold mathematical instruments from 1885 but became notable from 1892 when it began making fine drawing instruments. See also MA*317925.04, MA*325684, MA*335301, and 2007.0039.01. In 1926, Richter sold this set as model number 2330 for 61.00 DM. Several of the original instruments in this particular set are missing, while others from various makers have been added to the case.
Frederik Preisler made and distributed scientific instruments in Copenhagen, Denmark, around 1900. The Copenhagen firm founded in 1838 by Cornelius Knudsen made optical, navigational, and surveying instruments, planimeters, and equipment for telegraphy into the 1930s.
German immigrant Heinrich Berolzheimer opened Eagle Pencil Company as a pencil shop in New York City in 1856, with a factory in Yonkers. By 1880 the firm made mechanical pencils as well as pens and erasers. In 1969 the company changed its name to Berol Corporation, and the Empire Pencil Corporation purchased it in 1986. Its Turquoise line of drawing leads was widely sold in the early 20th century.
Harald Trap Friis (1893–1976) owned these instruments. He earned a degree in electrical engineering from the Technical University of Denmark in 1916. In 1919 he moved to the United States to study at Columbia University. He worked for Bell Labs from 1920 to 1958 and was notable for discoveries in the mathematics of radio transmissions, the development of radio astronomy, and improvements in microwave radar and communication equipment. Friis likely purchased his original set from the Preisler firm before he left Denmark. His widow donated his papers and this set of instruments to the Library of Congress in 1977, which transferred the set to the Smithsonian in 1982.
References: Catalogue of E. O. Richter & Co., 5th ed. (Chemnitz, Germany, [1926]), 78; Hemming Andersen, Historic Scientific Instruments in Denmark (Copenhagen: Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, 1995), 8–10, 37, 47, 55, 68, 79–82, 276; "Eagle Divider and Compass," School Journal 56 (1898): 389.
Currently not on view
Object Name
drawing instruments, set of
date made
ca 1920
E. O. Richter & Co.
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
leather (overall material)
fabric (overall material)
german silver (overall material)
steel (overall material)
aluminum (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
overall: 2.5 cm x 27 cm x 11.7 cm; 31/32 in x 10 5/8 in x 4 19/32 in
place made
Deutschland: Sachsen, Chemnitz
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Science & Mathematics
Drafting, Engineering
Drawing Instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Drawing Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Transfer from Library of Congress, Exchange and Gift Division
Additional Media

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