Set of Drawing Instruments Sold by Sears Roebuck


This unpolished wood and cardboard case is wrapped in packaging tape added by the donor for transporting the instruments. The set includes:

1) 5-1/4" and 4-1/4" steel drawing pens. The tightening screws on the spring blades are marked: SEARS ROEBUCK GERMANY.

2) 6" steel dividers. A pin in one leg latches to the other leg. The hinge is marked: SEARS ROEBUCK GERMANY.

3) 6" steel compass with one jointed leg and removable pencil point, pen point, and jointed lengthening bar. All parts except the pencil point are marked: SEARS ROEBUCK GERMANY. The lengthening bar is also marked: HAB. A divider point is apparently missing.

4) 3" metal handle. The remainder of this instrument, which had a point, is apparently missing.

5) 2" and 1-1/4" cylindrical metal cases. The larger has one graphite lead, one needle point, and two tops for screws. The smaller holds 5 graphite leads.

6) 3-3/4" bow dividers, bow pen, and bow pencil.

The donor (b. 1949) reported that his great-grandfather, Henry Arthur Botkin, owned this set. Botkin lived in Missouri and East Texas before the instruments were damaged in a 1903 family house fire. The case may thus be a later replacement and possibly is handmade.

The date of the instruments is uncertain. After advertising only watches and jewelry from 1888 to 1893, Sears Roebuck began issuing a general catalog in 1894. These objects do not resemble any of the drawing instruments advertised in the Spring 1896 (pp. 467–468), Fall 1897 (pp. 369–370), Fall 1899 (pp. 175–177), or Spring 1905 (pp. 370–371) Sears Roebuck catalogs. The bow pen, pencil, and dividers appear to have first been advertised in Spring 1911 (p. 746). This style of drawing compasses and pens still was not depicted by Spring 1914 (p. 792), when the outbreak of World War I interrupted the import of drawing instruments made in Germany. In Fall 1920 (p. 1200), Sears Roebuck offered a set of instruments like these (with only one lead case and no handle) from Keuffel & Esser's Pilot brand for $15.35. However, when European imports resumed in Spring 1921 (p. 602), none of the instruments advertised resembled these. By Spring 1925 (p. 507), Sears Roebuck sold Schoenner instruments.

Reference: "History of the Sears Catalog,"

Date Made: early 20th century

Distributor: Sears, Roebuck and Co.

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: Germany

Subject: MathematicsDrafting, Engineering


See more items in: Medicine and Science: Mathematics, Science & Mathematics, Drawing Instruments


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of John C. Botkin

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1978.0226.01Catalog Number: 336490Accession Number: 1978.0226

Object Name: drawing instruments, set of

Physical Description: wood (overall material)cardboard (overall material)metal (overall material)Measurements: overall: 1.5 cm x 24.5 cm x 11.5 cm; 19/32 in x 9 21/32 in x 4 17/32 in


Record Id: nmah_1214064

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