National Bureau of Standards Replica Meter Standard

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This aluminum bar, with an X-shaped cross-section, is a replica of the platinum international meter prototype housed in Paris and used as a standard for the metric system from 1889 to 1960. On one side, the lower left corner is marked: A.27. The upper right corner is marked: B.27. Like an actual meter standard, the bar is 102 centimeters long and there are marks 1 centimeter from each end on this side to show the precise length of a meter. Compare to 2000.0126.25.
A rectangular walnut case is lined with black felt. A brass plate on the top of the case is marked: REPLICA METER BAR (/) Presented to (/) BENJAMIN L. PAGE (/) Metrologist (/) National Bureau of Standards (/) On the occasion of his retirement (/) December 29, 1961.
Benjamin Lorenzo Page (1894–1977) began working with length standards at the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology) around 1920. He was presented with this replica when he retired. His widow, Helen (Bell) Page, then gave it to one of his colleagues, Rolland Ackermann (1905–1985).
References: Catalog of Artifacts on Display in the NBS Museum, edited by H. L. Mason, NBSIR 76-1125 (Washington, D.C., 1977), 17; Robert P. Crease, World in the Balance: The Historic Quest for an Absolute System of Measurement (New York: W. W. Norton, 2011), 223; Herbert Arthur Klein, The Science of Measurement: A Historical Survey (reprint, New York: Dover, 1988), 185; "Benjamin Lorenzo 'Ben' Page,"; Calibrations of the Line Standards of Length of the National Bureau of Standards, by Lewis V. Judson and Benjamin L. Page, RP743, Bureau of Standards Journal of Research 11 (July-December 1933).
Currently not on view
date made
place made
United States: District of Columbia, Washington
Physical Description
walnut (overall material)
aluminum (overall material)
felt (overall material)
brass (overall material)
overall: 5.8 cm x 109 cm x 5.8 cm; 2 9/32 in x 42 29/32 in x 2 9/32 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Helen L. Ackermann
Rule, Measuring
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Measuring & Mapping
Scale Rules
Metric System
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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