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Folding Rule
Signed by Antonio Bianchini
Dated 1564; Italian
Gilt brass; 375 mm in length

The instrument is made up of two wide, flattened limbs, on which numerous marks have been engraved including the degree-scale, the shadow square or height-measuring scale, the wind rose and other measures. A compass is located at the joint of the limbs.

As illustrated in treatises of the period, this folding rule could measure heights and distances, both terrestrial and astronomical, with the help of a ruler which has been lost. This example of the instrument, in gilt brass, was 'dedicated' to Cosimo I de' Medici. The author, Antonio Bianchini, offered the instrument to the Grand Duke, who placed it in the collection of scientific instruments. Bianchini also constructed a second such instrument, which is also present in the Medicean collection (Epact 44997), made in ordinary brass, and intended to show the uses to which the instrument could be put.

Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza, Firenze
Inventory no. 2511

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