Pencil-Multiplier, a Multiplication Table

Inventors have arranged multiplication tables on cylinders and on discs to ease use. This set of tables is designed to fit over the end of a pencil.
Near the top of this red pencil, just below the eraser, is a table of multiples of the numbers from 13 to 24 by the numbers 1 through 12. A metal cap numbered from 13 to 24 fits over the table at the top. A rotating metal cylinder fits into the cap, and is numbered 1 to 12 around the top. There is a small window in the cylinder below each of these numbers; the distance of the hole from the top varies with the size of the number. The “1” hole reveals multiples of 1 in the table, the “2” hole multiples of 2, etc. To find, say, 15 times 9, one sets the 9 column of the cylinder under the 15 of the cap and reads off 135.
A mark on the rotating cylinder reads: CHICAGO RECORDING SCALE CO. (/) WAUKEGAN. ILL. (/) PAT. PENDING. A mark on the pencil reads: U.S.A. SOUTHERN CROSS - No 2502.
The Chicago Recording Scale Company was in business in Waukegan, Illinois, from at least 1895 until at least 1910. I have seen no patent assigned to the company that corresponds to this object. The drawings for U.S. patent 613,432 for an improvement in pencil-boxes show something somewhat similar to this device, although the numbers included and the arrangement of windows is different. That patent was taken out by Stanislas Szenhak of “Warshaw, Russia,” and assigned to Julius Witkowski of Yokohama, Japan. Szenhak applied for a patent on August 19, 1898, and received it November 1, 1898. He also obtained a patent in Great Britain, where his invention was called a “toy for teaching arithmetic.”
This example of the device was given to the Museum by John William Christopher Draper and James Christopher Draper. Several objects in this gift were once the property of the New York meteorologist Daniel Draper, who took an active interest in the improvement of calculating instruments.
Stanislas Szenhak, “Pencil-box,” U.S. Patent 613432, November 1, 1898.
P. A. Kidwell, “American scientists and calculating machines: from novelty to commonplace,” Annals of the History of Computing, 12, 1990, pp. 31–40.
Currently not on view
Object Name
mathematical table
date made
ca 1900
Chicago Recording Scale Company
Physical Description
aluminum (overall material)
lead (overall material)
paper (overall material)
wood (overall material)
overall: 1.4 cm x 22 cm x 1.4 cm; 9/16 in x 8 21/32 in x 9/16 in
place made
United States: Illinois, Waukegan
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Mathematical Charts and Tables
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of John William Christopher Draper and James Christopher Draper
Additional Media

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