Pedometer Signed by Jacob Ramminger


This pedometer consists of four discs in a wooden case that is carved with running foliage. The outermost disc is made of silvered metal, evenly divided into single units, and numbered by tens from zero to 100. A brass pointer is attached to the inner edge of this disc. The second disc is brass. Along its outer edge, it is evenly divided into units of 250, and numbered by thousands from 1,000 to 12,000. The disc is marked: Numeri Milienarior[u]m Pasuvm Iac Ram D Scriba Inuentor (/) Numeri Miliariorum Germaniorum Cumunium. The inner edge of this disc is evenly divided into quarter-units and numbered by ones from 1 to 12. The third disc is silvered metal and marked with a floral pattern. A hand or pointer extends from the disc. The fourth disc is also patterned and has an ornate hand. A wing nut holds all of the discs together.

A metal plate screwed to the back of the instrument has two belt clips. The wearer would also tie the pedometer around his leg through a metal eye extending from the bottom of the instrument. The pedometer was then supposed to jiggle with each step, moving the counters one unit. The outer scale on the second disc thus counted the number of steps or paces taken, and the inner scale counted the number of German miles accumulating.

Jacob Ramminger, alias "the Scribe," made mathematical instruments in Stuttgart, in the southern German state of Baden-Württemberg, in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The only other instrument known to have survived from his workshop is a 1594 surveying compass owned by the British Museum. In 1601 his shop issued a collection of manuscript maps, Seehburch, darinnen alle Seeh und Weyher in dem löplichen Hertzogthumb Würtemberg, now owned by the Würtemberg Library (Cod.hist.fol.261) and viewable online at

References: Jane Insley, "Pedometer," in Instruments of Science: An Historical Encyclopedia, ed. Robert Bud and Deborah Jean Warner (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), 440–441; Adler Planetarium, Webster Signature Database,; The British Museum, "Survey Instrument/Compass/Calendar/Calculator," reg. no. 1896,0808.01,; E. Zinner, Deutsche und Niederländische astronomische instrumente des 11. Bis 18. Jahrhunderts, 2nd ed. (Munich, 1967), 478.

Date Made: ca 1600

Maker: Ramminger, Jacob

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: Germany: Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart

Subject: Mathematics


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


Exhibition Location:

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1979.0038.01Accession Number: 1979.0038Catalog Number: 1979.0038.01

Object Name: pedometer

Physical Description: brass (overall material)wood (overall material)silvered metal (overall material)Measurements: overall: 10 cm x 13.5 cm x 3.5 cm; 3 15/16 in x 5 5/16 in x 1 3/8 in


Record Id: nmah_904684

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