Chicago Stamping Co. Combination Ruler and Paper Cutter, Advertising The Hartford Insurance Co.

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This convex orange-coated tin combination rule and paper cutter has a 9" scale divided to sixteenths of an inch along one long edge. The other long edge is shaped into a tube, which may serve as a handle while cutting or tearing paper. A small hole at the right end may be for hanging the rule. The rule is marked: Compliments (/) of (/) THE HARTFORD FIRE INS. Co. (/) HARTFORD, CONN. The company's logo of a stag appears between the words "HARTFORD" and "FIRE." The tube notes that the company had paid $33,000,00 for claims in New York City in 1835, Nantucket, Mass., in 1846, St. Louis, Mo., in 1849, Portland, Me., in 1866, Chicago in 1871, Boston in 1872, and St. John, New Brunswick, "and other places" in 1877. These were all historic destructive fires. The back of the rule is marked: AGENCIES IN ALL CITIES AND TOWNS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY (/) Commenced Buisness 1794 • Charter Perpetual (/) The Chicago Stamping Co. Combination Rule and Paper Cutter. Patent Sept. 8th 1885. Hartford Fire Ins. Co. Sole Owner and Manufacturer. All Infringements prosecuted.
Richard S. Thain (1845–1912) received the patent mentioned on the instrument. He fought for the Union in the Civil War, was advertising manager of a Chicago publication, Western Rural, and organized an advertising firm with George W. Sharp in 1868. He spent some time in New York City after the Chicago fire of 1871. From 1882 to 1889, he worked for a Chicago advertising agency, Lord & Thomas. Another ruler made from Thain's design is 293320.2815.
The Chicago Stamping Company was in business from at least as early as 1868 to at least as late as 1911. The firm made enameled cylindrical tin containers, such as milk and trash cans; published sheet music and stationery items; and manufactured the United States Wheel brand of bicycles. Although text on the rule says The Hartford started selling fire insurance in 1794, the history on the company's website indicates it was not incorporated until May 10, 1810. The firm adopted its stag logo in 1875. As of 2013, it was one of the biggest insurance companies worldwide.
References: Richard S. Thain, "Combination Ruler and Paper Cutter" (U.S. Patent 325,992 issued September 8, 1885); "Men of the Ninety-sixth Regiment with Millburn Connections," excerpted from Charles A. Partridge, ed., History of the Ninety-Sixth Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry (Chicago, 1887), Historic Millburn Community Association,; "The Hartford's Historical Timeline,"
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1890
Hartford Fire Insurance Company
Chicago Stamping Company
place made
United States: Illinois, Chicago
place distributed
United States: Connecticut, Hartford
Physical Description
tin (overall material)
overall: .8 cm x 24 cm x 4.3 cm; 5/16 in x 9 7/16 in x 1 11/16 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana
Advertising Devices
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Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Measuring & Mapping
Scale Rules
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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