Our museum is temporarily closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Read a message from our director, and check our website and social media for updates.

Stanley Rule and Level Co. Meter Stick for American Metric Bureau

Stanley Rule and Level Co. Meter Stick for American Metric Bureau

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
The Stanley Rule and Level Company made this square maple meter stick around 1880 for the American Metric Bureau (AMB). The AMB intended to use the rule to teach the metric system—unlike other rules on the market that had both British and metric units, this one had only metric markings—but the AMB's secretary, Melville Dewey, also hoped to make his personal fortune from selling metric supplies. One side of the stick is plain. The next is divided along both edges to millimeters and numbered by tens of centimeters from 10 to 90. The next side is graduated in centimeters by alternate markings of black paint. It is numbered by tens from 10 to 90. The fourth side is divided into decimeters, with alternate decimeters in plain wood or black paint. It is numbered by ones from 1 to 9. The fourth decimeter is marked: AM. METRIC BUREAU (/) BOSTON. The sixth decimeter is marked: STANLEY RULE (/) & LEVEL Co. (/) NEW BRITAIN. CONN. Compare to 1990.3012.01.
References: Peggy Aldrich Kidwell, "Publicizing the Metric System in America from F. R. Hassler to the American Metric Bureau," Rittenhouse 5 (1991): 111–117; Peggy Aldrich Kidwell, Amy Ackerberg-Hastings, and David Lindsay Roberts, Tools of American Mathematics Teaching, 1800–2000 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 187–190; Philip E. Stanley, Boxwood & Ivory: Stanley Traditional Rules, 1855–1975 (Westborough, Mass.: The Stanley Publishing Company, 1984), 70.
Currently not on view
Object Name
scale rule
date made
ca 1880
Stanley Rule and Level Company
place made
United States: Connecticut, New Britain
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
overall: 2.1 cm x 100 cm x 2.1 cm; 13/16 in x 39 3/8 in x 13/16 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Rule, Measuring
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Measuring & Mapping
Science & Mathematics
Scale Rules
Metric System
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