Japanese Demonstration Rule with Vernier

The Japanese Empire Department of Education displayed this oversized wooden ruler at the 1876 World's Fair, the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. The left and right sides are evenly divided into nine units of 2-7/16" or 6.2 cm. These units are subdivided into tenths and numbered on the right by tens from 0 to 90. A sliding piece, or vernier, in the center of the rule has nine units of 0.55 cm on the left side and nine units of 0.65 cm on the right. The vernier is numbered in ascending order on the left and in descending order on the right. An eyehook is attached to the top of the instrument for hanging in a classroom.
A red and white label on the bottom front is marked: No. 46 (/) M. The object arrived with another label marked: Dai NihonTeikoku Monbusho (Japanese Empire Department of Education). Since the intervals on the rule are evenly divided rather than logarithmic, it seems likely that this rule was used for measuring and not for calculating.
After the exhibition, John Eaton, the U.S. Commissioner of Education, arranged for the transfer of Japan's entire exhibit to the Bureau of Education (then part of the Department of the Interior) for a planned museum. The museum closed in 1906 due to high maintenance costs, and much of the collection was transferred to the Smithsonian in 1910.
Other educational mathematical objects exhibited by Japan in 1876 include MA*261301, MA*261302, MA*261305, MA*261306, and MA*261313.
References: Japan. Department of Education, An Outline History of Japanese Education: Prepared for the Philadelphia International Exhibition, 1876 (New York: D. Appleton, 1876), 121–122, 191–202; U.S. Centennial Commission, International Exhibition, 1876. Reports and Awards, ed. Francis A. Walker (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880), viii:143, 335; U.S. Bureau of Education, Annual Report of the Commissioner (1876), ccxi–ccxii.
Currently not on view
Object Name
scale rule with slide
rule, sliding
date made
before 1876
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
overall: 2 cm x 60.7 cm x 9.3 cm; 25/32 in x 23 29/32 in x 3 21/32 in
place made
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Scale Rules
Science & Mathematics
Expositions and Fairs
See more items in
Medicine and 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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