Stephenson Adding Machine

This U.S. Patent Office model for a stylus-operated non-printing adding machine has a rectangular wooden base. Four adjacent rotating wheels are inset in the base, with a metal cover that fits over them. The three small wheels on the right each have a metal arm pivoted at their centers and ten evenly spaced indentations around the edge. The digits from 0 to 9 are marked on the cover just outside each of these wheels. The numbers increase counterclockwise going around the first and third wheels and clockwise going around the second wheel. The two middle wheels also have ten pins arranged just inside the indentations. The pins of one wheel are linked to the arm of the wheel to the right of it. The fourth, leftmost, wheel is larger and has 20 indentations and 20 pins. The indentations are numbered from 0 to 19 going counterclockwise. A two-wheeled device was manufactured under this patent.
A paper tag attached to the machine reads: No.137,107 (/) A.M. Stephenson (/) Adding Machines (/) Patented March 25th 1873. A second paper tag attached to the machine reads: A.M. Stephenson (/) Adding Machine (/) Received March 5th, 1872.
This instrument was in the collections of the Museums of the Peaceful Arts in New York City before coming to the Smithsonian Institution as a gift of L. Leland Locke.
Archibald M. Stephenson (1844-1913), the inventor of this instrument, was born in Indiana and spent most of his adult life in Illinois. He manufactured a version of this instrument in Joliet.
U.S. Patent 137107, March 25, 1873.
R. Otnes, “A.M. Stephenson and His Adder,” Journal of the Oughtred Society, vol. 13 #2 (Fall 2004): pp. 55-60.
W. W. Stevens, Past and Present of Will County, Illinois, Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1907, pp. 348-349.
Currently not on view
Object Name
adding machine
date made
Stephenson, Archibald M.
Stephenson, Archibald M.
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
paper (overall material)
brass (overall material)
overall: 2 cm x 26.6 cm x 9 cm; 25/32 in x 10 15/32 in x 3 17/32 in
place made
United States: Illinois, Manteno
place patented
United States: Illinois, Manteno
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
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 L. Leland Locke
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.