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Small dividers with ink nib attached

Date: Early 19th century
Overall: 80 x 10 x 8 mm, 11 g
Medium: Brass, steel
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Dividers
Object No: 00051668
Place Manufactured:England

User Terms

    A pair of small metal dividers made of brass with a steel tip and an adjustable screw at the top that allows the amount of ink to be adjusted and therefore the width of the line can be varied.
    These dividers are contained in a flip-top case and part of a set of drawing instruments designed to fit in a pocket or bag. Instruments such as these were common to a range of professions, including engineering, surveying and navigation and were popular in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
    SignificanceThis early English pocket drawing set is significant and representative of instruments used by explorers and surveyors during the 19th century. Encased in a fish skin flip-top container, the set is designed as convenient personal equipment for use in the field.
    HistoryThe use of drawing instruments dates at least to the Classical period and the construction of large scale public buildings. Instruments such as dividers and scale rules remained little-changed up until the 18th century when advances in science and technology combined to fuel the Industrial revolution. The development of new drawing instruments is closely linked to the rise of new specialist professions such as engineering, surveying and navigation. The refinement of sextant scales by Jesse Ramsden is just one example of a burgeoning refinement in instruments in the late 18th century.

    Sometimes referred to as 'gentlemen's travelling cases' or 'etui', pocket instrument cases were designed as a convenient accessory. Often covered in sharkskin, fish skin, leather or turtle shell they could contain a small variety of instruments including folding scale rules, protractors and dividers. In contrast to the larger range of instruments contained in magazine cases, pocket cases were for essential instruments.
    Additional Titles

    Exhibition object title: Drawing instrument set

    Assigned title: Small dividers with ink nib attached

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