Smithsonian museums continue to be closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. No re-opening date is available at this time. Check our website and social media for updates.

Pocket Case of Drawing Instruments Signed Martel

Pocket Case of Drawing Instruments Signed Martel

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
This miniature sharkskin pocket case is lined with green cardboard. An emblem of cherries is imprinted on the top and bottom of the case. The case holds 3-1/4" silver and steel fixed-point dividers; a hollow silver scribe with a pen point that inserts into the tube and a pencil lead inside the tube; and a 3-5/8" silver French-style sector. (See
One side of the sector has double scales of chords, running from 10 to 90, and for inscribed regular polygons, from 12 sides to 3 sides. A scale for diameters of bullets, running from 1/4 to 30, is along the outer edge of both legs. This side is marked: MARTEL (/) A GENEVE.
The other side has double scales of equal parts, running from 10 to 100, and for the specific weights of six metals. The outer edge of both legs has a scale for the caliber of shot, running from 1/4 to 27. A scalloped piece fits between the arms of the sector and may be used to lock the instrument into position. A square piece inside the hinge has a pinhole for a plumb line, although no plumb line is present.
Pierre Martel (1706–1767) was a Swiss engineer, mathematics teacher, maker of mathematical instruments, and geographer who used his own instruments to observe and explore glaciers in the Alps in 1742. He worked in Geneva from 1723 to 1743, in London from 1743 to 1746, and in Jamaica from 1746 to 1761.
References: Peter H. Hansen, The Summits of Modern Man: Mountineering After the Enlightenment (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013), 32–33; Adler Planetarium, Webster Signature Database,
Currently not on view
Object Name
drawing instruments, set of
date made
Martel, Pierre
place made
Switzerland: Genève, Geneva
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
silver (overall material)
steel (overall material)
sharkskin (overall material)
overall: 10 cm x 2.5 cm x .6 cm; 3 15/16 in x 31/32 in x 1/4 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Drafting, Engineering
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Drawing Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

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.


Add a comment about this object