Vertical Sketchmaster, Plotting Board by Abrams Instrument Company

Description
In the early twentieth century, the U.S. Geological Survey began to use panoramic cameras for topographic surveys. Photogrammetry, or measurement using photographs, proved highly successful. From 1921, the Topographic Branch of the Survey had s Section of Photographic Mapping. A variety of special instruments helped to transform photographs into maps. In 1931, James L. Buckmaster of the Survey designed the first version of this instrument, the vertical sketchmaster.
The device allowed the transfer of detail from a photograph taken vertically from the air to the ground onto a plotting sheet. The image to be copied was placed in the bed of the instrument. By means of an arrangement of mirrors, the image also could be viewed on a plotting sheet below and sketched.
At the time of World War II, the U.S. Marine Corps arranged for Abrams Instrument Company of Lansing, Michigan, to make this version of the sketchmaster. It has an iron and stainless steel frame, three large supports stored at the back (two of these rotate out to the sides), and glass mirrors and lenses. Placing a photograph on the bed and looking through a hole at the front, one can see the photograph projected onto a surface below.
A metal tag on the frame reads: VERTICAL (/) SKETCHMASTER (/) SERIAL NO. 468 MODEL VE-1 (/) MFD. FOR U.S. MARINE CORPS (/) by ABRAMS INSTRUMENT CO. (/) LANSING, MICHIGAN, U.S.A.
The device fits into a wooden box painted gray. Another metal tag on the front of the box has the same information as the one just cited. A warning painted on the top of the box reads: CAUTION (/) THIS SIDE UP. The inside of the box has a section with six steel box-shaped weights. It also has a paper tag that reads in part: Important (/) This instrument bears Serial No. 468 (/) O.K.ed for shipment by (/) Inspector No. OK (/) 9 Date SEP 3 1943.
Reference:
Morris M. Thompson, Development of Photogrammetry in the U.S. Geological Survey. Geological Survey Circular 218 Washington, D.C.: U.S. Geological Survey, rev 1953, esp. p. 7.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
plotting board
date made
1943
ca 1943
maker
Abrams Instrument Co.
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
glass (overall material)
wood (overall material)
paper (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 24.2 cm x 48 cm x 33.7 cm; 9 17/32 in x 18 29/32 in x 13 9/32 in
place made
United States: Michigan, Lansing
ID Number
MA*333633
accession number
300659
catalog number
333633
subject
Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Plotting Boards
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Plotting Boards
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of the University of Missouri - Columbia
Additional Media

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