Groesbeck's Calculating Machine

Description
This stylus-operated non-printing flat adding machine has five cogged, linked wheels. Five windows at the bottom show sums of numbers entered. Five windows at the top show complementary digits and are used in subtraction. The outer casing of the instrument is nickel-plated brass, the mechanism is brass. The device lacks a stylus. It is marked: GROESBECK’S CALCULATING MACHINE (/) PATENTED MAR. 18 1870. It is also marked: ZIEGLER & McCURDY (/) PHILAPA.CINN.O.CHICAGO,ILL. (/) ST.LOUIS,MO.SPRINGFIELD,MASS.
This machine is the invention of John Groesbeck (1834-1884), a consulting accountant, operator of the Crittenden Commercial College in Philadelphia, and author of several textbooks on commercial arithmetic. It apparently was his only invention. According to a review in the Philadelphia School Journal, it sold for $6.00 in 1871. The firm of Ziegler & McCurdy dissolved in 1872, suggesting that this object was made quite near the time of the patent. It was given to the Smithsonian in 1944 as a gift of Lt. John P. Roberts of the U.S. Naval Reserve.
References:
John Groesbeck, “Improvement in Adding-Machines," U.S. Patent 100,288, March 1, 1870.
“Groesbeck’s Calculating Machine,” Pennsylvania School Journal, vol. 19 #7, January, 1871., p. 216.
E. Martin, The Calculating Machines (Die Rechenmaschinen), trans. P. A. Kidwell and M. R. Williams, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1992, p. 383.
George P. Donehoo, editor. Pennsylvania A History - Biographical, Chicago/New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., Inc., 1928, 290 to291.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
adding machine
date made
1870
patentee
Groesbeck, John
maker
Ziegler & McCurdy
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
brass, nickel-plated (overall material)
Measurements
overall: .8 cm x 16.8 cm x 7.5 cm; 5/16 in x 6 5/8 in x 2 15/16 in
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
place patented
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
ID Number
MA*312824
accession number
167256
catalog number
312824
subject
Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Adding Machines
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Adding Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Lt. (j.g.) John P. Roberts, U.S.N.R.

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