Japanese Scale Rule

This 60 cm brass ruler is divided to millimeters along one edge. The scale is not numbered. The other edge is divided into 20 units of 1-3/16" (3 cm). Each unit is thus roughly equivalent to the sun, a traditional Japanese unit of length that is 1/10 of a shaku, a "foot" measure. Four of the units are subdivided into 50 parts; the other 16 are subdivided into 20 parts. Each unit is marked with a small "0." The fifth and fifteenth units have a row of three zeroes above the "0." The tenth unit has a zero, a row of three zeroes, and another zero.
The Japanese Empire Department of Education displayed this rule at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. It then was held by the Museum of the U.S. Bureau of Education before transfer to the Smithsonian in 1910. For more information, see MA*261298 and MA*261313.
Currently not on view
Object Name
scale rule
date made
before 1876
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
overall: .3 cm x 61.2 cm x 3 cm; 1/8 in x 24 3/32 in x 1 3/16 in
place made
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Rule, Measuring
Expositions and Fairs
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Scale Rules
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Transfer from Bureau of Education, Department of the Interior

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