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Keuffel and Esser Universal Duplex Slide Rule "prototype" 4090 10" Linear slide rule

Major collection: Science & Technology
Object type: slide rule
Maker: Keuffel & Esser Co.
Measurements: 2 in x 1/2 in x 12 in

Green cardboard box marked "F.S. 167" and "K+E 10" 4090 "Prototype" Universal Duplex p299-cm1900" on top, "Duplex Sample 1900 series AMT-1" on side. Celluloid on mahogany. Two connected slides. Front: A [B C] D [C S A]. Back: A [BI CI] D [CI L T] D. Engraved on front: "Keuffel & Esser Co. N.Y." and "Pat. Oct. 6. 1891. & March 21. 1899". Hexagonal bolt endings on reverse of rule. This rule was originally part of the Keuffel and Esser Company Collection. According to oral accounts, at the time K&E went out of business, Mr. Jack Burton, Vice President of Marketing, was given permission to select artifacts from the K&E company slide rule collection for his personal collection. The Oughtred Society was asked to liquidate the collection in June 1995 after Mr. Burton passed away. (See: "The Jack Burton Collection," The Journal of the Oughtred Society, March 1994, p. 15; "The Auction at the June 1995 Meeting," The Journal of the Oughtred Society, June 1995; "The K&E Universal Slide Rule," The Journal of the Oughtred Society, Fall 2001, p. 45.) This particular rule is an extremely rare (only five or six are known to exist) in part because it was an extremely expensive rule ($20-30 in 1900-1909 dollars; ci. $450 in 2011 dollars). The rule has been determined to be a prototype of the production rule. The K&E Universal Slide Rule is considered the second most rare rule among Keuffel & Esser products. It was invented and patented by W.L.E. Keuffel in the late 1890s. (Patent No. 621,348 March 21, 1899) and first advertised in 1901. Robert Otnes and Robert DeCesaris have documented the history of the Universal slide rule in the attached article from The Journal of the Oughtred Society. In addition to its rarity, the Universal rule is particularly valuable in that it illustrates an important element to K&E slide rule manufacture. The unusual design of the rule was the result of a technical "work-around." According to Otnes and DeCesaris, the K&E dividing engine could only cut scales on the edges of stators or slides, "thus greatly limiting the number of scales on a single rule. Keuffel solved this problem by adding more edges!" (p. 45)

Model 4090 Catalog Pages

Gift of Mr. Robert Otnes

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