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More patent sticks

Here is a trio of glorified wooden sticks for ruling parallel lines that each somehow managed to secure patent protection. Two are so similar that they could easily be mistaken for variants of the same design, were it not for the different patent numbers. The third is possibly the most ludicrous patent of them all, consisting of little more than two cylindrical rolling rules fastened together.

They all date from the 1880s-90s, which seems to have been the heyday of souped-up rolling rules. I have managed to find summaries of the first two patents and an advertisement for the third, transcribed below beneath their respective photos.

Freeman patent rolling rule

Patent 8248 (1884, May 27) D. Freeman – Ruler
“Measures of length.–An ordinary round ruler A is provided with a parallel guard B running its whole length and fixed to two end pieces D, D. The pen is pressed against this guard so that the ruler does not get inked. To D, D is also fixed the counterpoise C, on which the fingers press while ruling; it is graduated for measuring, and its edge can also be used as a ruler with a bow pen. The ruler itself is graduated circumferentially at its end and a pointer is fixed to D, so that the ruler can be moved any required distance down the paper.”

Brear Wilson patent rule combination ruler

Patent 20910 (1892, Nov. 18) C. H. Brear & A. Wilson – Parallel rulers (sold as “The Combination Ruler”)
“Measures of length.–A cylindrical ruler A is connected to a ruler E by link B at the end. The ruler E may be put into either of the positions shown in Figs. 3 and 5 for fine and coarse work respectively. The surface of the ruler E is graduated for measuring purposes, and the ends of the cylindrical ruler are graduated, and pointers J are formed on the links B for ruling lines at required distances apart.”

Appleton patent double rolling ruler

Appleton’s Patent Double Ruler (c.1885)
“With this Ruler perfectly parallel lines are produced, by drawing the Pen along the Black Ruler and rotating the Light one in the usual way. The Black Ruler not revolving–should Ink adhere to it–it does not come in contact with the Book or Paper, thus preventing blots or smudges, and the necessity of constant wiping.
9 Inches … … 1s. 3d.
12 Inches … … 2s. 0d.
15 Inches … … 2s. 6d.
18 Inches … … 3s. 0d.

While none of them quite reaches the lower threshold of patentability achieved by Harrison’s (1907) and Kellock’s (1917) polygonal rulers discussed in this post, they are nevertheless fascinating as a glimpse into the preoccupations of their late nineteenth-century inventors.

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