Set of 7 Japanese Scale Rules Signed Fujishima

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Seven bamboo rulers, five that are just over 12" (about 31 cm) long and two that are 2-1/4" (15.5 cm), are in a rectangular paulownia wood case. Labels have been torn away from inside the case lid and the right end of the case.
The first and second rules are identical. They have a groove along one edge. The other edge has a scale 30.3 cm long that is divided into ten sun, a traditional Japanese unit of length that is 1/10 of a shaku, a "foot" measure. Each unit is 1-3/16" (3 cm) long. The first seven units are subdivided into 20 parts, the eighth into 40 parts, the ninth into 50 parts, and the tenth into 100 parts. The center of each unit is marked with a dot. The center of the rule has five horizontal and two vertical dots that form a "T."
The third rule is marked in Japanese: Made by Fujishima. It is also marked: 32. It has scales for 3/8" to the foot and 3/4" to the foot along both edges. The back is marked: FOOT. It is also marked: 1/32. It is also stamped in red: 1.
The fourth rule is ebonized. The front is marked in Japanese: Made by Fujishima. The scales along both edges are identical, divided to fifths of a unit and numbered by fives from 5 to 140. Each increment of five units is 13/32" (1.1 cm) long, and the scales are both labeled: 1/12. The back of the rule is stamped: 1 (/) 12. It is also stamped: 6.
The fifth rule has two scales of inches, divided to 1/16" on one edge and to 1/12" on the other. Both scales are numbered by ones from 1 to 12. The back is stamped in red: INCH. It is also marked: 1 (/) 16. It is also marked: 1 (/) 12. It is also marked: 3.
The sixth and seventh rules have scales that are 1-5/16" long. Both rules are divided along both edges into eight units that are subdivided into tenths. On the sixth rule, the scales are numbered by tens from 0 to 80. The back is marked: 1/500. It is also stamped in red: 9. The scales on the seventh rule are numbered by ones from 0 to 8. The back is marked: 1/40. It is also stamped in red: 2.
These rules were likely used in engineering and architectural drawing. Compare to MA.261283, MA.261285, MA.261286, and MA.261287. The rules were exhibited by the Japanese Empire Department of Education at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. They then were displayed by the Museum of the U.S. Bureau of Education until 1906 and transferred to the Smithsonian National Museum in 1910. For more information, see MA.261298 and MA.261313.
Currently not on view
date made
before 1876
place made
Physical Description
bamboo (overall material)
wood (overall material)
overall: 4.2 cm x 33 cm x 4.6 cm; 1 21/32 in x 13 in x 1 13/16 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Transfer from Bureau of Education, Department of the Interior
Expositions and Fairs
Rule, Measuring
Drafting, Engineering
Drawing Instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Scale Rules
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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