Drawing Template

This clear plastic template contains five circles, a rectangle, a square, a parallelogram, and two triangles, along with thirteen pieces of chemical apparatus.
By the 1920s, students studying chemistry in American colleges and universities were expected to keep detailed laboratory notebooks. To help them in this endeavor, laboratory apparatus firms such as Eimer and Amend in New York, as well as CENCO, E.H. Sargent & Co., and W.H. Welch Company (all of Chicago) sold stencils with cutouts in the shape of chemical apparatus. All of these firms sold a stencil that shows the chemical apparatus on this object and the five circles. These stencils were cut off on one side (hence in the shape of trapezoids and not a rectangle) to assist in drawing bent delivery tubes. This eliminated the triangles, square, parallelogram, and rectangle on this instrument.
A template precisely like this one is found in a 1967 catalog of the C-Thru Ruler Company of Bloomfield, Connecticut. Called a “chemistry and math stencil,” it sold for $1.80 a dozen. That catalog also contains a “chemistry stencil” like – but not identical to – those found in the earlier catalogs of chemical supply companies.
The donor presented this object along with a set of drawing instruments by Dietzgen, although the template is not by Dietzgen. The gift was given in memory of his father, Edward Bradley Morrison, and in honor of his son, Joshua Bradley Morrison. The donor had been told that his uncle got the set from a friend who assisted with the restoration of the U.S.S. Constitution; the uncle then gave the set to the donor's father for use in his college studies.
Central Scientific Company, Catalog, Chicago. No stencil with chemical symbols is shown in the May 1909 catalog. One does appear in the 1912 catalog reprinted in 1914, as the #532. From 1919 until 1927 it sold as the model 12790. By 1936 through at least 1960 it was the #18800.
E. H. Sargent & Company, Catalog, Chicago, 1929, p. 721. It showed a “Novic” stencil like those shown by CENCO, Eimar & Amernd, and Welch.
Eimar and Amend, Catalog AA, New York, 1920, p. 515. It too shows a “Novic” stencil.
William M. Welch Catalog, Chicago. A stencil with chemical symbols appeared as model #303 in catalogs from at least 1922 through 1949.
C-Thru Ruler Company, General Catalogue, Bloomfield, Connecticut, 1967, p. 11. This template was model no. 350. C-ThruRuler Company was founded in 1939.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1960
ca 1920
C-Thru Ruler Company
place made
United States: Connecticut, Bloomfield
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
overall: .1 cm x 16 cm x 7.7 cm; 1/32 in x 6 5/16 in x 3 1/32 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Edward A. Morrison in Honor of Joshua Bradley Morrison and in Memory of Edward Bradley Morrison
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Drawing Templates
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


Add a comment about this object