Railroad Curves Associated with George Shattuck Morrison

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Description
This set of thirty-one well-finished cardboard curves fits in a wooden case with metal hinges and clasps. One curve appears to be handmade. The inner and outer edges of a given curve are identical arcs of circles. The number marked on a curve is the radius of that circle. Radii range from 1 1/2" to 60." The curves are marked: 1 1/2, 2, 2 1/2, 3, 3 1/2, 4, 4 1/2, 5, 5 1/2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, and 60. The handmade curve is marked: 10 1/12000. There is no maker's mark.
Railroad curves were used to draw the circular arcs representing track curves on railroad maps. The firm of Keuffel & Esser sold a set of thirty cardboard railroad curves like this from at least 1890 until at least 1921. In 1890, it also offered the curves in wood and hard rubber. By 1909, it sold them in plastic (Xylonite) as well. By 1936, K & E offered railroad curves only in plastic. Eugene Dietzgen Company of Chicago offered a similar set of thirty cardboard railroad curves from at least 1904 through at least 1931.
These instruments are associated with the American railroad bridge engineer George Shattuck Morison (1842-1903).
References:
Eugene Dietzgen Company, Catalog, 1904, p. 219, 1908, p. 243, 1926, p. 228, 1931, p. 247.
Keuffel & Esser Company, Catalogue, 1890, p. 152, 1909 p. 228, 1921, p. 156, 1936, pp. 236-237.
Rolland A. Wallis, Industrial Education: Notes on Mechanical Drawing, Ames, Iowa: Engineering Extension Department Iowa State College, 1922, p. 24.
Accession file.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1890
Physical Description
wood (case material)
cardboard (curves material)
metal (hinges and clasps material)
Measurements
overall: 9.3 cm x 37.9 cm x 6 cm; 3 21/32 in x 14 29/32 in x 2 3/8 in
ID Number
1993.0111.01
accession number
1993.0111
catalog number
1993.0111.01
Credit Line
Gift of Christiana M. Leonard, Elting E. Morison, and John H. Morison
subject
Mathematics
Drawing Instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Curves
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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