Chinese-Style Abacus or Suan-p'an, Used by Korean Settlers in Hawaii


This abacus fits in a wooden box with a wooden cross piece. There are nine parallel rods, with beads on each rod. Seven rods are made of bamboo, two of metal. Two beads on each rod are above the cross piece, five below. The beads are rounded, like those on Chinese abacuses. The base of the box slides out to the right.

According to donor Burgess, this abacus was the property of his grandfather, Kim Dong Kuen, and his wife, early Korean settlers in Hawaii. The Kims were caretakers at a privately owned beachfront home in the country. Burgess and his family would visit the beach in their model A Ford on Sunday afternoons to go swimming. Before Kim Dong Kuen died, he gave Burgess's grandfather this instrument, his prize abacus.

The 1930 U.S. Census lists a Kim Dong Kun, a resident of Honolulu born in about 1884 who emigrated from Korea in 1900. His wife also was born in Korea, emigrating in 1906. They had five children, all born in Hawaii. The family name was Kim.

Date Made: ca 1900

Subject: Mathematics


See more items in: Medicine and Science: Mathematics, Abacus, Science & Mathematics

Exhibition: My Computing Device

Exhibition Location: National Museum of American History

Credit Line: Gift of Dana Tai Soon Burgess

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2016.0006.01Accession Number: 2016.0006Catalog Number: 2016.0006.01

Object Name: abacus

Physical Description: wood (box, beads material)metal (two rods, screws material)bamboo (seven rods material)Measurements: overall: 3.2 cm x 25 cm x 17.5 cm; 1 1/4 in x 9 27/32 in x 6 7/8 in


Record Id: nmah_1804465

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