Tools for sale 

An introduction to Rules

Information courtesy of Ken Roberts

The collection and study of rules offers a fascinating insight into the history and development of modern day technology. Initially, the earliest examples were simple, linear measuring tools, but soon there evolved a myriad of complex rules for calculating almost anything known to man.

There are three basic types of rules:

  1. linear measure
  2. volume measure (wet and dry)
  3. calculating

By far the majority of rules made during the 18th and 19th centuries were for linear measurement used in the woodworking trades, but there were also rules offered by the majority of rule manufacturers for architects, builders, coachmakers, engineers, ironmongers and hardware dealers, saddlers, shoemakers, surveyors, tailors, blacksmiths, machinists, and optometrists, to name but a few. According to the studies of Ray Townsend, the folding joint wood rule was invented by the Italian Architect vincenzio Scammozi (1552-1616). This was later adopted in France by instrument makers, producing sector rules, the fore runner to the mathematical slide rule. Subsequently this was introduced in London, England during the 16th Century, and became known as the French joint.

The trade of rulemaking developed in England from instrument makers working in London. By the last quarter of the 18th Century, the centre shifted to Birmingham and surrounding towns.

Appeared 1995 – Toolshop Auctions Catalogue

© 1998-2017 Tony Murland - email tony@antiquetools.co.uk