277 of 520
Sorted by:
Instrument type

Folding Rule
Signed by Humfrey Cole
Dated 1575; London
Brass; 305 mm in radius

This is one of four surviving instruments of similar design by the leading English instrument maker of the 16th century.

Developed from a simpler craft instrument, the wooden 'carpenter's rule', Humfrey Cole's device is a multipurpose instrument that could be used for surveying, map work and specialised calculation. It incorporates an inch ruler and scales of equal parts, as well as scales for reckoning areas and volumes. When equipped with sights it could be used to measure horizontal angles and, with the further addition of a plumb bob, vertical angles can be taken with its quadrant and shadow square.

Produced in expensive brass and neatly engraved, it demonstrates both the engagement of mathematical practitioners with practical tasks and also their distance from the humble instruments of craft practice.

Museum of the History of Science, Oxford
Inventory number 49631

© Museum of the History of Science, Oxford. All rights reserved. Information and images provided here may not be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the museum.

Basic URL:

|| Introduction || Essay || Museums || Bibliography || Conventions || Credits || Privacy || Help ||
|Catalogue entries |Handlist || Makers || Places || Articles || Glossary || Search || Home ||