Plain Dividers by Société des Lunetiers

This brass instrument has steel points that are both bent at the end. It has a ridged cylindrical handle and is held together with a screw. One arm opens and closes at the joint. That arm is marked: STE DES LUNETIERS (/) FRANCE.
In 1849 several workshops in Paris formed the Société des Lunetiers to cooperatively sell spectacles and mathematical instruments. Since 1972, the company has been known as Essilor.
Keuffel & Esser, an American maker and dealer of slide rules and drawing instruments, donated this object to the Smithsonian in 1971. Part of a paper tag received with the object has been lost, but the remaining portion suggests these dividers may have been used by company employees preparing lettering. None of the dividers offered in K&E catalogs in 1909, 1921, or 1936 resemble this instrument.
References: Nicolàs de Hilster, "Société des Lunetiers," Geodetic Instruments,; "About Essilor,"
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
ca 1900
Société des Lunetiers
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
steel (overall material)
overall: 1 cm x 14.2 cm x 1.1 cm; 13/32 in x 5 19/32 in x 7/16 in
place made
France: Île-de-France, Paris
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Science & Mathematics
Drafting, Engineering
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
Credit Line
Gift of Keuffel & Esser Company
Additional Media

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