Geometric Model of a Regular Icosahedron by A. Harry Wheeler or One of His Students

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Greek mathematicians knew in ancient times that there are only five polyhedra that have identical faces with equal sides and angles. These five regular surfaces, called the Platonic solids, are the regular tetrahedron (four equilateral triangles as sides), the cube (six square sides), the regular octahedron (eight equilateral triangles as sides), the regular dodecahedron (twelve regular pentagons as sides) and the regular icosahedron (twenty equilateral triangles as sides). This is an early 20th-century model of a regular icosahedron. The sides are covered with sateen and brocade fabrics of various designs and colors, in the style of late 19th-century piece work. Catch stitches are along the edges.
The model is unsigned, but associated with the Worcester, Massachusetts, schoolteacher A. Harry Wheeler. Wheeler taught undergraduates at Wellesley College, a Massachusetts women’s school, from 1926 until 1928. It is possible that one of his students there made the model.
Judy Green and Jeanne LaDuke, Pioneering Women in American Mathematics: The Pre-1940 PhD’s, Providence: American Mathematical Society, 2009, p. 21.
date made
ca 1926
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Worcester
Physical Description
cloth (overall material)
overall: 4.8 cm x 6.3 cm x 6 cm; 1 7/8 in x 2 15/32 in x 2 3/8 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Louise D. Campbell
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Mathematical Association of America Objects
Engaging Minds
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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