Mathematical Table, J. D. Smith Machine For Multiplying Numbers

This is the United States patent model for a multiplication table. It consists of a wooden disc pivoted to a wooden handle on which it revolves. The front of the part of the handle above the disc is a metal rod with the numbers 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 1 through 10, and 20 engraved on it. The top of the disc has numbers engraved over its surface such that one can line up the handle with a number on the edge of the disc and find multiples of that number on the disc next to the engraved numbers on the handle.
A mark painted on the back of the handle and written on the back of the disc reads: J.D. SMITH.
This invention was patented in 1857 by James D. Smith (1834-1908), a native of Chatham, New York, who had moved to Brantingham in that state in 1841. He worked there in various businesses. In addition to this patent, Smith took out patents for an improvement in tool sharpeners (#87,212, February 12, 1869) and an improvement in station-indicators (#161170, March 23, 1875). No evidence has been found indicating that any of these inventions led to products.
In 1881, Smith moved to Albany to study law. He spent the rest of his career as an attorney.
James D. Smith, “Machine for Multiplying Numbers,” U. S. Patent 18711, November 24, 1857.
“James D. Smith,” The Journal and Republican, Lowville, New York, June 4, 1908, p. 1.
Currently not on view
Object Name
mathematical table
date made
Smith, James D.
Smith, James D.
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
metal (overall material)
overall: 2 cm x 21 cm x 31 cm; 25/32 in x 8 9/32 in x 12 7/32 in
place made
United States: New York, Brantingham
place patented
United States: New York, Brantingham
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Science & Mathematics
Mathematical Charts and Tables
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Mathematical Charts and Tables
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Additional Media

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