Bouchet Adding Machine

This is the second form of the 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.
The machine added 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 example of the machine has a tin cover and a brass base and nine key stems arranged in two rows (the keys are missing). It was the gift of Mrs. Joseph S. McCoy, widow of Joseph S. McCoy, Actuary of the U.S. Treasury from 1889 until his death in 1931. McCoy and his predecessor, Ezekial Brown Elliott, were most open to inventions in adding machines. According to one of McCoy’s colleagues, the Bouchet machine was left in the office by the inventor in the year 1890 or thereabouts to be tried out. Bouchet did not return.
This machine has serial number 960. Compare to 323620.
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.
Accession File.
“Joseph Sylvester McCoy,” National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 24: p. 382.
Currently not on view
date made
Bouchet, Michael
place made
United States: Kentucky, Louisville
Physical Description
tin (overall material)
brass (overall material)
overall: 5.5 cm x 13.3 cm x 8.5 cm; 2 5/32 in x 5 1/4 in x 3 11/32 in
ID Number
maker number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. Joseph S. McCoy
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Adding Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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