Group of Two Dividers

Early modern European draftsmen used dividers to transfer distances from measuring instruments to architectural, topographical, mechanical, and engineering drawings. They also employed dividers in reading off distances on a sector, so that a numerical calculation could be made. The first pair of dividers has metal needle points inserted into brass legs. Decorative horizontal lines are engraved into the brass. The instrument is almost 4" long.
The second pair of dividers is entirely made of brass. Two sets of three horizontal lines are engraved into the outside of the legs. On one leg, a wheel is engraved below the lines. The instrument is 3-1/4" long.
Reference: J. F. Heather, Mathematical Instruments: Their Construction, Adjustment, Testing, and Use, rev. ed. (London: Crosby Lockwood and Co., 1870), i:13, 42.
Currently not on view
Object Name
dividers, group of
date made
18th century
Physical Description
steel (overall material)
brass (overall material)
overall: 1 cm x 9.5 cm x .8 cm; 3/8 in x 3 3/4 in x 5/16 in
place made
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Science & Mathematics
Dividers and Compasses
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Dividers and Compasses
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Additional Media

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