Patent Model for Rule Invented by Henry Adler

Patent Model for Rule Invented by Henry Adler

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Henry Adler received U.S. Patent 206,410 for a combination rule, paper tearer, pencil sharpener, and T-square on July 30, 1878. The model he submitted with his patent application is a hollow sheet metal triangular tube, with a cone for sharpening a pencil at one end and a wooden stopper at the other. The stopper is supposed to have an eraser at one end, a sharpener for slate pencils at the other end, and be removable so that pens and pencils may be stored within the tube. However, at present the stopper cannot be removed from the instrument.
A piece of metal below the stopper is used for tearing paper. One face of the triangular tube has a roughly engraved ruler for inches, divided to 1/4" and numbered by ones from 12 to 1. A T-square attachment that is supposed to fasten to the pencil sharpener is not present.
A patent tag tied to the instrument with red ribbon is marked: 2–232 (/) No. 206410 (/) H. Adler (/) Rulers (/) Patented July 30th (/) 1878. A second paper tag is marked: 78 Henry Adler (/) Ruler & Paper Tearer (/) Received Jany 22 (/) 1/29/78. Both tags appear to have fire and water damage.
According to the patent, Henry Adler lived in Pittsburgh, Pa. The only Henry Adler listed in the Pittsburgh city directory for 1877–1878 was a maker of galvanized iron cornices. The 1880 U.S. Census lists a Henry Adler who was born in Germany in 1833 or 1834, lived in Pittsburgh, and ran a fender factory. These are probably the same person. Henry Adler of Pittsburgh took out patents for a wide range of inventions, including metal moldings and ceilings (1872, 1875, 1877, 1878, and 1891); gas burners, stoves and ovens (1891, 1892, 1898, 1899, 1900, and 1902) and a stepladder (1907). The same witnesses and attorney are listed on the patent for this rule and on one for sheet-metal fenders taken out by Henry Adler in 1878. Later Henry Adler patents also have the same attorney.
The H. Adler Company of Pittsburgh and then Carnegie, Pa., was for a time a successful manufacturer of gas stoves under the trade name Acme. By 1916 the firm was in receivership.
References: Henry Adler, "Improvement in Sheet Metal Fenders" (U.S. Patent 205,820 issued July 9, 1878), "Improvement in Rulers" (U.S. Patent 206,410 issued July 30, 1878), "Metallic Ceiling" (U.S. Patent 460,283 issued September 29, 1891), and "Burner for Burning Gaseous Fuel" (U.S. Patent 485,594 issued November 1, 1892); "Pittsburgh and Nearby Districts," Iron Age 98 (August 24, 1916): 430.
Currently not on view
Object Name
scale rule
Object Type
Patent Model
date made
Adler, Henry
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh
Physical Description
sheet metal (overall material)
paper (overall material)
wood (overall material)
overall: 2.2 cm x 2.5 cm x 30.7 cm; 7/8 in x 31/32 in x 12 3/32 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Patent Models
Rule, Measuring
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Scale Rules
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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