Fuller's Spiral Cylindrical Slide Rule

This rule consists of an outer wooden cylinder that slides up and down and rotates. Two brass rings lined with felt are inside this cylinder. The cylinder is covered with paper marked with a single spiral logarithmic scale graduated into 7250 parts and having a length, according to the maker, of 500 inches (nearly 42 feet). Inside the outer cylinder is a longer wooden cylinder, covered with paper marked with decimal, conversion, and sine tables. A solid mahogany handle is at one end. A third cylinder of brass is inside the instrument. A brass index is screwed to the top of the handle. A second, longer brass index is screwed to the mahogany base and marked with a scale of equal parts used in finding logarithms.
The tables on the middle cylinder include: decimal equivalents of feet and inches in feet; decimal equivalents of quarter weights and pounds in hundredweights; decimal equivalents of ounces and pounds in fractions of a pound; decimal equivalents of pounds, shillings, and pence in fractions of a pound; decimal equivalents of pence in shillings; days of the year as a fraction of the year; decimal equivalents of subunits of an acre; properties of various metals and woods; decimal equivalents of minutes of a degree in degrees; the Birmingham wire gauge; various conversion factors (mostly for weights and measures); and natural sines.
The outer, sliding cylinder is marked near the top: FULLERS SPIRAL SLIDE RULE. Near the bottom is marked: ENTD. STATS. HALL; STANLEY, Maker, LONDON. The bottom is stamped: 1099. The top of the long brass index is engraved: 1099 (/) 98. According to Wayne Feely, these numbers indicate the instrument has serial number 1099 and was made in 1898.
The rule is in a rectangular mahogany case marked in script on the top: Calculator. A blue sticker attached to the inside lid of the case reads: DRAWING MATERIAL (/) FRED. A. SCHMIDT. WASHINGTON D.C. (/) 516 (/) 9TH ST. (/) BRANCH (/) 1722 (/) PA. AVE. (/) TRADE MARK (beneath a drawing of intertwined dividers, right-angled ruler, and French curve). The inside of the lid is also stamped: MADE IN GREAT BRITAIN. A yellow rectangular label is printed: To H.M. Government Science & Art Depnt. Council of India, Admiralty, &c. (/) MADE BY (/) W. F. STANLEY, (/) Optical, Philosophical & Mathematical (/) INSTRUMENT MANUFACTURER, (/) ENGINE DIVIDER, &c. (/) MATHEMATICAL DEPARTMENT, GREAT TURNSTILE, HOLBORN, W.C.
George Fuller, professor of civil engineering at Queen's University in Belfast, Ireland, patented this instrument in 1878. The Stanley firm made about 14,000 Fuller's spiral slide rules over nearly one hundred years. According to Boyd's Directory of the District of Columbia, Fred A. Schmidt, vendor of draftsmen's supplies, moved from 504 9th Street N.W. to 516 9th Street, with a branch at 1722 Pennsylvania Avenue, between 1895 and 1900.
According to the donor, this example came from the family of her first husband, Fred Robert Troll (1920–1971), a sanitary engineer who attended Columbia University. The original purchaser may have been his father, Frank Troll, or his uncle, who was an artist who traveled frequently.
See also MA*311958, MA*316575, and MA*313751.
References: William Ford Stanley, Mathematical Drawing and Measuring Instruments, 6th ed. (London: E. & F. N. Spon, 1888), 248–249; W. F. Stanley, Surveying and Leveling Instruments, 3rd ed. (London, 1901), 542–543; Wayne E. Feely, "The Fuller Spiral Scale Slide Rule," Chronicle of the Early American Industries Association 50, no. 3 (1997): 93–98.
Currently not on view
Object Name
calculating rule
slide rule
date made
Stanley, William Ford
Physical Description
paper (part material)
mahogany (overall material)
brass (part material)
overall: 10 cm x 45.2 cm x 11.1 cm; 3 15/16 in x 17 25/32 in x 4 3/8 in
place made
United Kingdom: England, London, Holborn
ID Number
catalog number
maker number
accession number
Rule, Calculating
Science & Mathematics
Slide Rules
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Slide Rules
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Jeannie E. Troll Becraft
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

7/14/2014 12:00:35 AM
Andrew Eric Allan
I used the Fuller barrel slide rule, designed by Mr fuller of Queens University ,Belfast, N. Ireland to calculate ship stability conditions in the 1940's in the Harland & Wolff Drawing Office , Belfast. The same calculators were used in the same offices on the design of the RMS Olympic & Sister ship Titanic. Since the calculators were the property of the shipyard it is most likely that I used one of the same calculators from that Era, only 30 years later.
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