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Surveyor's Tape

Surveyor's Tape

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This measuring tape is marked "Patented July 10th & Aug 7th 1860." On the earlier date, William H. Paine of Sheboygan, Wisc., received a patent (#29,096) for a lightweight steel tape covered with tin to protect it from rust. The case, also described in the patent, was equipped with a thermometer for determining expansion or contraction, a set of ten taping pins, and a plate that served as an outkeeper. Paine's second patent (#29,514) described a continuous sheet metal measure with a gauge indicating expansion. In 1870, now living in Greenpoint, Long Island, Paine exhibited steel measuring tapes at the annual fair sponsored by the American Institute, and took home an honorable mention. Paine's complicated case, of which this object is a good example, did not remain long on the market. His steel tapes, however, encased in leather cases with flush handles, were still available in the 1920s.
Ref: "Improved Surveyor's Measure and Tackle Case," Scientific American 4 (1861): 104.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Measuring Tape
Associated Date
Paine, William H.
Associated Place
United States: Wisconsin, Sheboygan
case: 10 1/4 in x 6 5/8 in; 26.035 cm x 16.8275 cm
tape: 3/16 in x 50 ft;.4826 cm x 15.24 m
overall: 10 1/2 in x 7 1/8 in x 2 in; 26.67 cm x 18.0975 cm x 5.08 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Surveying and Geodesy
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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