Peerless Calculating Machine


This manually operated, non-printing stepped drum calculating machine has a metal mechanism and exterior, painted black on the outside. It fits snugly in a wooden case, and has a slate on a hinged door to the left of the levers. The sides of the case provide the openings for the sliding carriage. The case can be locked, but there is no key.

Eight levers move to set the stepped drums. A row of windows below the levers reveals the number entered. A lever on the left is set for addition and multiplication or subtraction and division. A crank on the right is turned repeatedly to calculate.

The movable carriage has a row of nine small windows at the front that reveal discs of the revolution register. A row of 16 discs behind this records the result. The right side of the carriage has a zeroing lever for the revolution register, and the left side has a zeroing lever for the result register. A metal handle for lifting the carriage is on the left. The left side of the front of the machine has a zeroing handle for the entry levers. A wooden lever hinged along the base of the back of the machine unfolds to serve as a stand, so that the machine slopes toward the operator. A sliding panel in the bottom of the machine opens to reveal the stepped drums. The drums are made from a metal composite, die–cast on brass cylinders.

A mark stamped over a script MB on the front right of the machine reads: Trade Mark (/) PEERLESS. An inscription below the levers at the center front of the machine reads: Keuffel & Esser Co (/) New York. Left of this is the mark: Patents pending. Stamped on the back of the case and scratched on the bottom of the machine (so that it is visible when the wooden panel is open) is the mark: 10083. On the back of the carriage at the left is the serial number 2035.

In about 1904 the German firm of Mathias Bäuerle, a manufacturer of clocks, began making a stepped drum calculating machine on the design of Tobias Bäuerle, a son of the founder of the company. It was dubbed the Peerless. Keuffel & Esser Company, the American manufacturer of drawing instruments, soon offered the Peerless in its catalogs. K&E advertised an earlier version of the Peerless, without the zeroing crank for the levers, in its 1906 catalog (p. 313). This model of the Peerless is shown in the 1909 catalog (pp. 302–303, K&E #4006N). It sold in three capacities (6x7x12, 8x9x16, and 10x11x20) for $250.00, $300.00, and $375.00. By 1913, K&E was offering a Peerless calculating machine with an iron stand rather than a wooden case.

This example is from the collections of Felt & Tarrant Manufacturing Company.

Compare 325564, 326642, and 323628.


Keuffel & Esser, Catalog.

E. Martin, The Calculating Machines (die Rechenmaschinen), trans. P. A. Kidwell and M. R. Williams, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1992, pp. 149–151.

Date Made: ca 1910

Distributor: Keuffel & Esser Co.Maker: Math. Baeuerle

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: Germany: Baden-Württemberg, Sankt GeorgenPlace Distributed: United States: New Jersey, Hoboken

Subject: Mathematics


See more items in: Medicine and Science: Mathematics, Calculating Machines, Science & Mathematics


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of Victor Comptometer Corporation

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: MA.323628Catalog Number: 323628Accession Number: 250163

Object Name: calculating machine

Physical Description: nickel-plated brass (overall material)brass (overall material)wood (overall material)slate (overall material)metal (overall material)Measurements: overall: 13 cm x 59.2 cm x 25.5 cm; 5 1/8 in x 23 5/16 in x 10 1/32 in


Record Id: nmah_690664

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