Beam Compass Sold by Dietzgen

<< >>
This German silver instrument has two trammels, one with a reversible needle point and micrometer, and one with a holder for a pencil lead. The pencil holder may be replaced with an adjustable pen point. A rectangular wooden case is covered with morocco leather and lined with green silk and green velvet. The top of the case is marked: CE27RD. An indentation in the case indicates a piece is missing, possibly a container of pencil leads. Compare to 1978.2110.03.
The instrument resembles a beam compass sold by Dietzgen in two different grades from at least 1904 to 1934, first as model numbers 646C ($10.70) and 1034C ($6.60) and then as models 927 ($16.75) and 978 ($8.10). The case was lined with silk only in the 1904 catalog description, but the case of pencil leads was not mentioned until 1926. As with many beam compasses, purchasers had to separately buy a wooden bar to connect the trammels, in widths between 5/32" and 3/16" and lengths between 24" and 60".
References: Catalogue & Price List of Eugene Dietzgen Co., 7th ed. (Chicago, 1904), 71, 136; Catalogue & Price List of Eugene Dietzgen Co., 12th ed. (Chicago, 1926), 89–90; Catalogue & Price List of Eugene Dietzgen Co., 14th ed. (Chicago, 1934), 108–109.
Currently not on view
date made
early 20th century
place made
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
german silver (overall material)
wood (overall material)
steel (overall material)
velvet (overall material)
satin (overall material)
overall: 13.1 cm x 6 cm x 2 cm; 5 5/32 in x 2 3/8 in x 25/32 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Ruth A. Ming
Drawing Instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Dividers and Compasses
Data Source
National Museum of American History


Add a comment about this object