Tchoty, or Russian Abacus

This Russian abacus, or tchoty has a well-finished wooden frame, eight metal rods for carrying the beads, and plastic beads that move along the rods. Seven rods have four red beads, two purple beads, and then another four red beads. The other rod (the fourth from the bottom) has one red bead, two purple beads, and then another red bead. Loose inside the paper box are a small gray slip of paper and a larger beige paper, which appears to be a sales receipt.
This abacus was purchased in August 1965 by George W. Sims of California. Sims, who was born in about 1898, was a tax collector, certified public accountant, world traveller, and collector. Handwritten notations on the cardboard box in which the instrument was received indicate when it was purchased and state that it came from Smolensk in the Russian SSR, and cost the equivalent of 61 American cents. Documentation received in the same accession as the abacus (1988.0489.02) relates to the Chinese abacus, not this one.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
paper (overall material)
wood (overall material)
overall: 4.6 cm x 13 cm x 19.5 cm; 1 13/16 in x 5 1/8 in x 7 11/16 in
Place Made
Rossiya: Rossiya, Smolensk
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of George W. Sims
Additional Media

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