Folding Yardstick with Comparative Measures


This European brass rule consists of twelve segments, ten that are 10.5 cm (4-1/4") long and two that are 9.6 cm (3-3/4") long. The segments are riveted together end to end to form a rule about 104 cm (41") long. On one side the rule has scales for Paris and London inches, numbered by ones from 1 to 36. The other side has scales for Venice and Vienna inches, numbered by ones from 1 to 36. On each of the four scales, the first inch is divided to 1/12" and the rest are divided to 1/2".

According to the rule, the Paris inch was 1-3/32" long, the London inch was 1", the Venice inch was 1-1/8", and the Vienna inch was 1-1/32". These lengths are within range of the pre-metric system national standards reported by contemporary arithmetic textbooks and modern historians.

References: Charles Hutton, A Philosophical and Mathematical Dictionary, new ed. (London, 1815), ii:35–36; Philip E. Stanley, A Source Book for Rule Collectors (Mendham, N.J.: Astragal Press, 2003), 242–252.

Date Made: 18th century

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: Europe

Subject: MathematicsRule, Measuring


See more items in: Medicine and Science: Mathematics, Science & Mathematics, Scale Rules, Measuring & Mapping


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of Hermon W. Farwell

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: MA.335403Accession Number: 319921Catalog Number: 335403

Object Name: rule, foldingscale rule, folding

Physical Description: brass (overall material)Measurements: overall: .1 cm x 105 cm x 1.1 cm; 1/32 in x 41 11/32 in x 7/16 in


Record Id: nmah_904468

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