Replica of German Ell

Laurits Christian Eichner (1894–1967) was a Danish engineer who married an American, Sarah Craven, and settled in Bloomfield, N.J., in 1925. During the Depression, he began marketing his skills as a metal craftsman, eventually branching out from bronze bowls and pewter tableware to replicas of historical scientific instruments and modern precision instruments, such as interferometers, astrophotometers, and telescopes. In the 1950s the Smithsonian hired him to restore and reproduce instruments and machines in preparation for the opening of the Museum of History and Technology (now the National Museum of American History).
Eichner's workshop made this octagonal wooden rule from an original at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. The larger end is marked: LCE (/) 1964. An ivory handle around the larger end has black geometric markings. Ivory plates on each side of the rule show the length of the ell, a traditional "arm's length" measurement, in eight German cities. (One plate is broken.) Each side also has rounded notches marking off divisions for each length of ell.
Each city’s lengths are as follows: Bobwische 20.3, 40.3, 60.4, 70.3, 80.2 cm; Nurmberger (Nuremberg) 16.5, 32.7, 49.2, 57.3, 65.4 cm; Inspriger 20.6, 40.6, 60.7, 70.7, 80.7 cm; [. . .]rger 15.2, 30.2, 45.2, 52.7, 60.3 cm; Bayrisch (Bayreuth) 20.9, 41.4, 62.2, 72.6, 62.7 cm; Augsburger Wullin 14.6, 29.2, 43.9, 51.2, 58.3 cm; Wiener (Vienna) 19.3, 38.5, 57.9, 67.7, 77.2 cm; Brabondische 17.7, 34.4, 51.8, 60.6, 69.0 cm.
Reference: Robert P. Multhauf, Laurits Christian Eichner, Craftsman (Washington, D.C., 1971).
Currently not on view
Object Name
scale rule
date made
date received
L. C. Eichner Instruments
Physical Description
pearwood (overall material)
ivory (overall material)
overall: 2.3 cm x 93.2 cm x 2.6 cm; 29/32 in x 36 11/16 in x 1 1/32 in
place made
United States: New Jersey, Bloomfield
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Scale Rules
Science & Mathematics
Measuring & Mapping
Rule, Measuring
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Scale Rules
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Additional Media

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