Counter Associated with Telephone Poles


This special-purpose instrument consists of a wooden box, 27 counters arranged in three rows that fit in the box, and a reddish plastic cover. The cover has 27 round holes that expose the punches that drive the counters. Twenty-seven rectangular holes reveal the five-digit reading of the counters. Between the counters are three metal slots that hold paper labels for the different counters. The labels are marked in pencil or typed.

The slip of paper in the lowest metal slot has marks that read: GUYS (/) Head / Anchors (/) Earth / Rock / Bolt, and: Double Arms / Brace / Transposition / Light. (/) Rod. These terms may refer to properties of telephone poles. The pencil markings on the paper slips above the top two rows of counters are very hard to decipher.

The object was transferred to the Smithsonian from the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1962.

Date Made: ca 1920

Location: Currently not on view

Subject: MathematicsTelephone


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


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Transfer from U.S. Interstate Commerce Commission

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: MA.321785Catalog Number: 321785Accession Number: 246883

Object Name: counter

Physical Description: metal (overall material)wood (overall material)paper (overall material)plastic (overall material)Measurements: overall: 3 cm x 27.8 cm x 15 cm; 1 3/16 in x 10 15/16 in x 5 7/8 in


Record Id: nmah_690546

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.