Dutch El

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This wooden rectangular rule consists of a fluted handle with a carved head at the end and a tapered, ruled part. The rule is cracked between two nails below the handle on the side with the head's face. On the side with the back of the head, the rule is marked with straight lines that are 27.5, 38.5, 42.0, 49.7, 53.2, 56.9, 60.8, 64.5, and 68.1 cm from the base of the handle (or, 44.5, 33.5, 30.0, 22.3, 18.8, 15.1, 11.2, 7.5, and 3.9 cm from the tip of the rule). The mark at 49.7 cm is an asterisk rather than a plain line.
The Dutch el is a traditional "arm's length" measure commonly used before The Netherlands adopted the metric system in 1820. The el was 68–70 cm on average, but this example is slightly longer at 72 cm, excluding the handle. Compare to MA.318246, MA.318248, and MA.325404.
Currently not on view
date made
before 1820
place made
The Netherlands
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
overall: 1.7 cm x 84 cm x 2 cm; 21/32 in x 33 1/16 in x 25/32 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Rule, Measuring
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Measuring & Mapping
Scale Rules
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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