Bouchet Adding Machine

This is the second form of key-driven adding machine patented by Michael Bouchet (1827-1903), a French-born Catholic priest who came to the United States in 1853 and worked in Louisville, Kentucky, from 1860.
Bouchet was of an inventive turn of mind, devising automatic snakes to frighten his acolytes, and a folding bed and fire escape for his own use. He had considerable responsibility for the financial affairs of his diocese and, according to his biographer, as early as the 1860s invented an adding machine to assist in keeping these accounts. Of these devices, Bouchet patented only later versions of the adding machine, taking out patents in 1882 and in 1885.
His machine was used to add single columns of digits. Depressing a key depressed a lever and raised a curved bar with teeth on the inside of it. The teeth on the bar engaged a toothed pinion at the back of the machine, rotating it forward in proportion to the digit entered. A wheel at the left end of the roller turned forward, recording the entry. A pawl and spring then disengaged the curved bar, preventing the roller and recording bar from turning back again once the key was released. Two additional wheels to the left of the first one were used in carrying to the tens and hundreds places, so that the machine could record totals up to 99. Left of the wheels was a lever-driven tack and pinion zeroing mechanism.
This silver-colored example of Bouchet’s machine has a brass base and nine keys with plastic key covers (two of the key covers are missing), arranged in two rows. It is from the collection of computing devices assembled by Dorr E. Felt in the early 20th century It has serial number 229. Compare to 310230.
Michael Bouchet, “Adding Machine,” U.S. Patent 251823, January 3, 1882.
Michael Bouchet, “ “Adding Machine,” U.S. Patent 314561, March 31, 1885.
Dan Walsh, Jr., The Stranger in the City, Louisville, Ky.: Hammer Printing Co., 1913, esp. pp. 49-70.
Currently not on view
date made
Bouchet, Michael
place made
United States: Kentucky, Louisville
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
brass (overall material)
plastic (?) (overall material)
overall: 5.3 cm x 13.3 cm x 8.5 cm; 2 3/32 in x 5 1/4 in x 3 11/32 in
ID Number
maker number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Victor Comptometer Corporation
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Adding Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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