Ruler Hand Marked by Robert F. Roche

Description
Robert Frederick Roche (b. about 1839), an immigrant from Ireland, apparently purchased this 20-inch wooden rule as a blank straight edge and then marked it by hand. One side has a proportional scale marked up to one billion; an evenly divided scale numbered by ones from 1 to 12, with each unit equivalent to 4 cm; a logarithmic scale; a scale labeled PERCENTAGE; a scale labeled under 2 Percent; and a proportional scale numbered by ones from 2 to 13, with the number 6 miswritten as 8. The upper left corner of this side is missing. The right end is marked: Robert (/) F. Roche. A hole near the right end is for hanging the rule.
The other side has a proportional scale of units that is numbered by ones from 2 to 17 and labeled TENS at the right end; a logarithmic scale of tenths that is labeled UNITS at the right end; a proportional scale of roots and powers numbered by ones from 2 to 14; a proportional scale numbered by ones from 11 to [3]0; a scale of equal parts numbered by ones from 1 to 12, with each unit equivalent to 4 cm; and a scale of equal parts numbered by ones up to 47, with each unit equivalent to 1cm. The left end is stamped with an eagle logo and the word: TRADEMARK. This end is also marked: KEUFFEL & ESSER (/) N.Y.
Although the instrument was marked by Keuffel & Esser, by 1880 that firm sold no 20-inch straight edges. James W. Queen of Philadelphia did offer a 20-inch wooden straight edge for 30¢ in 1874, but one edge was beveled while both long edges of this instrument are straight. By 1877, like K&E, the shortest wooden straight edges offered by Queen were 24 inches long.
In 1864, Roche served in the U.S. Army at Fort Columbus in New York Harbor. According to a patent he received in 1878 and a notice of his son, Roche was stationed at Fort Foote in Maryland from at least 1871 to 1878, when this installation that provided defense to Washington, D.C., was abandoned and Roche moved his family into the District of Columbia.
References: James W. Queen & Co., Priced and Illustrated Catalogue . . . of Mathematical Instruments (Philadelphia, 1874), 46; James W. Queen & Co., Priced and Illustrated Catalogue . . . of Mathematical Instruments (Philadelphia, 1877), 46; Catalogue and Price List of Keuffel & Esser Co., 13th ed. (New York, 1880), 116; Robert F. Roche, "Improvement in Adding Sticks" (U.S. Patent 206,136 issued July 16, 1878); "New Inventions," Scientific American n.s., 39, no. 9 (August 31, 1878), 133; "Roche, Sidney," Who's Who in the Nation's Capital (Washington, D.C.: The Consolidated Publishing Company, 1921), 335. MA*311957 is an example of the patented device.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
rule
scale rule
date made
ca 1880
maker
Keuffel & Esser Co.
Roche, Robert F.
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
Measurements
overall: .3 cm x 50.5 cm x 4.8 cm; 1/8 in x 19 7/8 in x 1 7/8 in
place made
United States: Maryland, Fort Foote Village
ID Number
1984.1080.02
accession number
1984.1080
catalog number
1984.1080.02
subject
Scale Rules
Science & Mathematics
Mathematics
Rule, Measuring
Drafting, Engineering
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Scale Rules
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

Submit a comment or ask a question about this object using the form below. Submissions are moderated and may receive a curator response. Please note that we cannot evaluate or appraise your personal artifacts. For other questions or general inquiries please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.