Keuffel & Esser Wallet Case of Drawing Instruments

This black leather wallet case is lined with green velvet and closes with two metal snaps. The front lower left corner is marked: 437. A white celluloid plate inside the case is marked: KEUFFEL & ESSER CO. (/) NEW YORK, (/) ST. LOUIS, CHICAGO (/) SAN FRANCISCO. The case contains:
1) 5" and 4-3/8" metal drawing pens marked on their handles: PARAGON (/) 437. The points are marked: K&E Co.
2) 2" cylindrical metal case with three needle points wrapped in tissue paper.
3) 6-3/4" German silver drawing compass with bendable legs and removable pencil point, lengthening bar, and pen point. The pieces are all marked: 437. The compass is also marked inside one leg: KEUFFEL & ESSER Co. N.Y. (/) PARAGON. Inside the other leg is marked: PAT. MARCH 14 & 28 93 (/) GERMANY.
4) 3-7/8" German silver and steel bow pen and bow pencil.
5) 5-1/2" German silver, steel, and ebony railroad pen marked: 437 GERMANY. One blade is marked: K&ECO.
6) 4-3/4" German silver, steel, and ebony curve pen marked: 437 GERMANY. The point is marked: K&E Co.
7) 6-1/4" steel semicircular protractor, divided to single degrees and numbered by tens in both directions from 10 to 170.
The set appears to be missing a pair of bow dividers, a drawing pen, and a joint tightener. From at least 1890 to 1921, Keuffel & Esser sold a pair of proportional dividers as model number 437. No sets of drawing instruments had this model number, nor is a set exactly like this one shown in K&E catalogs. The number 437 on this set may therefore be a serial number, and the set may have been special-ordered for the institution that distributed it. K&E introduced the Paragon line of drawing instruments in 1901.
According to the donor, Alfred John Betcher (1887–1971) used this set of drawing instruments while he was a student at the University of Minnesota in 1906. He transferred to West Point in 1907 and graduated in 1911. He served in the Philippines, Texas, New York, France, Vermont, and Kentucky. He retired in 1939 at the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. In 1940 he was elected mayor of Canajoharie, N.Y.
References: George W. Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy, supp. vol. VI-B, ed. Wirt Robinson (Saginaw, Mich., 1920), 1532; accession file.
Currently not on view
Object Name
drawing instruments, set of
date made
Keuffel & Esser Co.
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
fabric (overall material)
german silver (overall material)
steel (overall material)
wood (overall material)
overall: 2.8 cm x 25.3 cm x 12 cm; 1 1/8 in x 9 15/16 in x 4 3/4 in
place made
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Drafting, Engineering
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Drawing Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of John A. Betcher
Additional Media

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