In 1891, William Wallace Ross (1834–1906), the superintendent of schools in Fremont, Ohio, published a set of “dissected surface forms and geometrical solids” for teaching practical geometry and measurement in schools and colleges. He also prepared a manual that describes their use. Ross extended earlier work of Albert H. Kennedy, including a much larger number of surfaces. His models would be distributed at least as late as 1917, when they were listed in the catalog of the Atlas School Supply Company of Chicago, Illinois.
In his manual, Ross listed eighteen “surface forms”, eighteen solids or volumes, and the five Platonic or regular solids. By the time of the 1917–1918 catalog, a set of the model reportedly contained fifty pieces. The Smithsonian collections include thirteen of the surface forms, ten of which correspond to objects in the 1891 list. They also contain all or part of twelve of the solid forms, at least five of which correspond to the 1891 list.
This is the second of Ross’s surface forms, a rectangle (or, in Ross’s language, an oblong) that measures 6 inches by 1 inch. The first surface form was a square one inch on a side. Taking the area of this square to be one square inch, students were to observe that the area of the rectangle was six square inches. A paper label attached to the model reads: Oblong 1x6.
Compare models 1985.0112.190 through 1985.0112.202.
W. W. Ross, Mensuration Taught Objectively with Lessons on Form . . . Manual for the Use of the Author’s Dissected Surface Forms and Geometrical Solids, Fremont, Ohio, 1891.
Atlas School Supply Company, Catalog No. 39 1917-18, Chicago, Illinois, 1917, p. 86.
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.