Fasoldt Ruling Engine

Fasoldt Ruling Engine

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Charles Fasoldt (1819-1889) was born in Dresden, served an apprenticeship as a clock and watchmaker, and spent some time in the Saxon army He was involved in an unsuccessful 1849 attempt to overthrow the Saxon king and found it wise to immigrate with his family to the United States, settling first in the town of Rome, New York, and then, from 1861, in Albany. Fasoldt took up the manufacture of microscopes as well as timekeeping devices and then, in the late 1870s, began to produce finely ruled test plates to determine the resolving power of the microscopes. To create these gratings he used this ruling engine. Evans describes it is some detail, and notes that the existing object has been revised considerably from Fasoldt's original plans.
The machine has eleven extra rachet wheels for the benefit of those wishing to vary the thinness of the grating. The instrument came to the Smithsonian in 1946.
C. Evans, "Precision Engineering: an Evolutionary Perspective," MSc Thesis, Cranfiled Institute of Technology, 1987, esp. pp. 99-100.
"Obituary," New York Tribune, May 13,1889, p. 7.
G. Martin Sleeman, "Charles Fasoldt's Contributions to Microscopy," Rittenhouse: Journal of the American Scientific Instrument Enterprise,," vol. 2 #4, August, 1988, pp 147-152.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Ruling Engine
date made
ca 1880
Fasoldt, Charles
place made
United States: New York, Albany
overall: 14 1/2 in x 28 in x 28 in; 36.83 cm x 71.12 cm x 71.12 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of A. R. McEwen
Ruling and Dividing Engines
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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