Warner & Swasey Circular Dividing Engine

Warner & Swasey Circular Dividing Engine

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Description
Dividing engines scribed the fine scales traced along the edges of mathematical, navigational, and astronomical instruments. From the time of Englishman Jesse Ramsden in the late eighteenth century, free-standing dividing engines with the advance or the tracer driven by a carefully controlled screw were used by scientific instrument makers (for an example of Ramden's dividing engine, see MA.215518).
In 1893, the U.S. Naval Observatory ordered a new meridian circle from the Cleveland firm of Warner &Swasey. The instrument required metal circles, 26 1/2" inches diameter, divided to two minutes of arc (10,800 divisions). To create scales of sufficient precision, Ambrose Swasey designed this circular dividing engine. It would be used at Warner & Swasey at least into the 1950s, and was given to the Smithsonian in 1974 along with documentation (see record MA.313774.02 and MA.313774.03) and a box of parts (MA> 313774.22)
References:
Accession file 313774.
C. Evans,Precision Engineering: An Evolutionary View, Bedford: Cranfield, 1987.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
dividing engine
date made
1895-1896
maker
Warner & Swasey Company
place made
United States: Ohio, Cleveland
Measurements
overall: 64 in x 54 in x 54 in; 162.56 cm x 137.16 cm x 137.16 cm
ID Number
MA.334398
catalog number
334398
accession number
313774
Credit Line
Gift of Warner & Swasey Company
subject
Ruling and Dividing Engines
Mathematics
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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