Sterling 544 Protractor and Drawing Instrument

This clear plastic semicircular protractor is contained within an irregularly shaped piece of plastic that features a French curve at the top, two triangles (of 60° and 45°) on the sides, and a 5-1/2" scale along the bottom.
The scale is divided to 16ths of an inch and is marked by single inches from 1" to 5". The protractor is divided to single degrees and marked by tens from 10° to 90° to 170° and from 170° to 90° to 10°. A semicircular slot separates the protractor from the French curve. Cut-out stencils for six circles range in diameter from 1/8" to 7/16". Also included are two slots for drawing angles of 30° and 45° and templates for an equilateral hexagon and two closed curves. On the curve the object is marked: SP [/] PROTRACTOR – FRENCH CURVE – TRIANGLES – RULER – CIRCLE GAUGES. Between the protractor and scale, the object is marked: MADE IN U.S.A.; 2; STERLING 544. The markings were stamped in black but are wearing off.
Sterling Plastics was operated by George and Mary Staab in Mountainside, N. J., through the late 1960s. It was a division of Borden Chemical Company in the 1970s and 1980s, during which time this object was called the 7-IN-1 Protractor. For other products of Sterling Plastics, see slide rule 1988.0807.01 and adding machine MA*335327. James J. Williams gave this protractor to the Smithsonian.
Reference: Toxic Substances Control Act: Trademarks and Product Names Reported in Conjunction with the Chemical Substance Initial Inventory (Washington, D.C.: United States Environmental Protection Agency, 1979), 90.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
ca 1975
Sterling Plastics
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
overall: .2 cm x 14.2 cm x 8.9 cm; 3/32 in x 5 19/32 in x 3 1/2 in
place made
United States: New Jersey, Mountainside
ID Number
nonaccession number
catalog number
Science & Mathematics
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of James J. Williams

Visitor Comments

1/23/2017 3:07:59 PM
Robbin Roberts
I bet I used and wore out at least a couple dozen of these wonderful “drawing instruments,” starting in the mid-1960s when I was eleven years old. At that young age I loved to pencil sketch mechanical designs and I continued to use this tool until the mid-70s, when I graduated from trade school and got a job as a draftsman!
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