Alteneder Opposite Bevel Chain Scale Retailed by B. K. Elliott

This six-inch wooden ruler is beveled and coated with white plastic along both long edges. One side is divided to 1/50" and numbered in both directions from 0 to 6. The number "50" is printed below the three-inch mark, and the center of the rule is marked: ALTENEDER. The other side is divided to 1/32" and numbered in both directions from 0 to 6. The number "32" is printed below the three-inch mark, and the wooden part of the rule is marked: B. K. ELLIOTT Co. PITTSBURGH – CLEVELAND. It is also marked: R. S. C. It is also marked: U.S. ST'D.
Theodore Alteneder began making drawing instruments in Philadelphia in 1850, and the firm remains in existence as a manufacturer of photoengraving equipment. Byron Kenneth Elliott (b. 1870) opened a store in Pittsburgh in 1897 that sold drawing, surveying, and optical equipment. The shop closed in 1980. The donor's father, Robert S. Condon, used this instrument.
The date for this object is uncertain. Theo. Alteneder & Sons made a 6" opposite bevel scale with white edges and these divisions as model 2232 from 1940 (when it cost $1.35) to at least 1958 (when it cost $3.25). However, according to catalog illustrations, the company mark during this period had the firm's full name around a circle, while this object has only "Alteneder" in a straight line. The scale does not appear in the 3rd, 5th, or 1948 7th editions of B. K. Elliott catalogs.
References: "Byron Kenneth Elliott," in History of Pittsburgh and Environs (New York and Chicago: American Historical Society, 1922), 35–36; Alteneder Drawing Instruments (Philadelphia, 1940), 26; Alteneder Drawing Instruments (Philadelphia, 1958), 26; Catalogue and Price List of B. K. Elliott Co., 3rd ed. (Pittsburgh, n.d.), 134, 140; Catalogue and Price List of B. K. Elliott Co., 5th ed. (Pittsburgh, n.d.), 135; Catalogue and Price List of B. K. Elliott Co., 7th ed. (Pittsburgh, 1948).
Currently not on view
Object Name
scale rule
date made
20th century
B. K. Elliott Co.
Theo Alteneder & Sons
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
wood (overall material)
overall: .4 cm x 17.8 cm x 3.5 cm; 5/32 in x 7 in x 1 3/8 in
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Science & Mathematics
Drafting, Engineering
Rule, Measuring
Scale Rules
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Scale Rules
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Robert B. Condon
Additional Media

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