Keuffel & Esser 506 Beam Compass

This German silver instrument has a rectangular bar 43" long with a micrometer adjustment on one end. The bar has two centimeter scales, divided to millimeters, and two inch scales, divided to twentieths of an inch. One centimeter scale and one inch scale are underneath a frame that holds a needle point and is marked with the micrometer scale and with the words: KEUFFEL & ESSER Co (/) NEW YORK (/) Paragon. The other scale is marked from 1 to 101 cm and 40". A second frame (or trammel) may be moved along these scales and has a holder for a pencil point. Pen and needle points in the case may replace the pencil point. A finer needle point mentioned in K&E catalogs is missing from the case. A two-wheeled attachment slides on to the bar to help control the bar's movement.
The rectangular mahogany case has a section for the accessories and three supports, lined with green velvet. K&E introduced the Paragon brand in 1901 for its finest imported and American-made products. In 1909, the company sold model number 506 for $35.00. It discontinued the instrument between 1921 and 1936. The U.S. Naval Observatory transferred this example to the Smithsonian in 1965.
References: Catalogue of Keuffel & Esser Co. , 33rd ed. (New York, 1909), 42–46, 52, 68; Catalogue of Keuffel & Esser Co. , 36th ed. (New York, 1921), 65.
Currently not on view
Object Name
beam compass
date made
Keuffel & Esser Co.
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
steel (overall material)
german silver (overall material)
overall: 123.2 cm x 13.6 cm x 5.4 cm; 48 1/2 in x 5 11/32 in x 2 1/8 in
place made
United States: New York, New York
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Science & Mathematics
Drawing Instruments
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
Transfer from U.S. Naval Observatory, Dept. of Defense
Additional Media

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