Lufkin 651B Folding Rule

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This four-fold boxwood rule has a brass round joint at the center and two brass hinges. It is two feet long when unfolded. One side has a scale of inches divided to 1/8" and numbered by ones from 23 to 1. One arm is marked: No 651B LUFKIN RULE CO. The other arm is marked: 1681 MADE IN U.S.A. PAT'D 12–3–18.
The other side has a scale of inches divided to 1/16" and numbered by ones from 23 to 1. One arm is marked: WARRANTED BOXWOOD. The other arm is marked: N.Y.C. APP. TYPE 352 SERIAL E 2.
Initially a manufacturer of boards for measuring timber and then of steel measuring tapes, the Lufkin Rule Company took that name in 1885 and moved from Cleveland, Ohio, to Saginaw, Mich., in 1895. By 1903 Lufkin was the largest manufacturer of steel measuring tapes in the United States. Around 1915 the firm began importing boxwood folding rules from central Europe and made the rules itself once World War I cut off its supplies. While Lufkin had a model 651 (formerly 68) that it advertised from the early 20th century into the 1950s, model 651B only began to appear in 1916 and disappeared by 1925. Twelve of these rules sold for $2.50 in 1916.
Lufkin president Fred Buck received the patent noted on the instrument for an improvement to the joint. Thus, this rule dates between 1918 and 1925. Cooper Industries purchased the company in 1967, closing its factories but preserving Lufkin as a brand name. An earlier Lufkin rule is 1985.0817.01.
References: Lufkin Rule Company, Measuring Tapes and Rules, cat. no. 9 (Saginaw, [1916]), 77; Fred Buck, "Joint for Folding Rules" (U.S. Patent 1,286,525 issued December 3, 1918); Lufkin Rule Company, Measuring Tapes, Rules, and Machine Tools, cat. no. 11 (Saginaw, [about 1925]), 120; David N. Keller, "The Lufkin Rule Company," in A Source Book for Rule Collectors, ed. Philip E. Stanley (Mendham, N.J.: Astragal Press, 2003), 81–86.
Currently not on view
date made
1918–ca 1925
place made
United States: Michigan, Saginaw
Physical Description
boxwood (overall material)
brass (overall material)
overall: .4 cm x 61 cm x 1.3 cm; 5/32 in x 24 1/32 in x 1/2 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Edith R. Meggers
Rule, Measuring
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Scale Rules
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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