Japanese Scale Rule with Caliper

An iron caliper with only one bar is nailed to one end of this bamboo rule. The caliper extends back about 3". The ruler is divided into 17 units of 1-3/16" (3 cm), and the units are subdivided into tenths. Each unit is roughly equivalent to one sun, a traditional Japanese unit of length that is 1/10 of a shaku, a "foot" measure. Bulls-eyes mark every five units. A red and white sticker on the caliper is marked: 10th (/) No 222.
The Japanese Empire Department of Education displayed this rule at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. It then was held by the Museum of the U.S. Bureau of Education until it was transferred to the Smithsonian in 1910. For more information, see MA*261298 and MA*261313.
Object Name
scale rule and caliper
date made
before 1876
Physical Description
bamboo (overall material)
iron (overall material)
overall: 1.8 cm x 61 cm x 7.5 cm; 23/32 in x 24 1/32 in x 2 15/16 in
place made
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Rule, Measuring
Expositions and Fairs
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Scale Rules
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Transfer from Bureau of Education, Department of the Interior
Additional Media

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