French-Style Sector Signed by Butterfield

The arms of this brass instrument have plain ends, but the hinge is decorated with a flower. One side has a double scale of chords that runs from 10 to 180; a double scale for "les Solides" that runs from 1 to 60; and a double scale for the specific weights of five metals, marked with their symbols. The outer edge of both arms has a scale that runs from 1/4 to 60 and is labeled Diamettre [sic] et Poids des Boulets. The sector is marked: Butterfield (/) AParis.
On the other side, the outer edge has a scale that runs from 1/4 to 60 and is labeled Calibre des Pieces. There are double scales of equal parts, running from 10 to 200; for "les plans," running from 10 to 60; and for inscribed regular polygons, from 12 sides to three sides. Compare to MA*321676 and 1985.0580.04.
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; Anthony Turner, "Sector," in Instruments of Science: An Historical Encyclopedia, ed. Robert Bud and Deborah Jean Warner (New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1998), 526–528.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Butterfield, Michael
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
overall: .4 cm x 17.3 cm x 3 cm; 5/32 in x 6 13/16 in x 1 3/16 in
place made
France: Île-de-France, Paris
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Rule, Calculating
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


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