Complete drawing instruments in silver-mounted tortoiseshell etui by Fraser, Ca. 1780

Complete drawing instruments in silver-mounted tortoiseshell etui by Fraser, Ca. 1780



7 in / 18cm



Country of manufacture

UK and Ireland

Category: Drawing Instruments


A complete set of architect’s drawings instruments in a fine silver-mounted tortoiseshell etui by William Fraser dating to circa 1780. Features 11 instruments including brass and ivory parallel rule, ivory sector and protractor with matching signatures *FRASER* *LONDON,* small and large dividers with complete fitting attachments for inking and pencil lines, a finely turned pen with removable pricker, a brass mounted pencil, and a fitting steel key for tightening the dividers. Rules are in excellent condition, all brass instruments have an even historic patina and finely made “butterfly” thumbscrews typical of the 18th century.

Tortoiseshell etui is mounted with silver molding, a silver cartouche on the lid, and silver hinge and clasp. Interior of the case is lined in silver and red velvet. Tortoiseshell is in good condition with minor scratches and distortions.

William Fraser (1720-1812) made a wide range of very fine instruments including sextants, barometers, telescopes, sundials, and drawing instruments. He was made Mathematical Instrument Maker to King George III and “Optical and Mathematical Instrument Maker to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales”. In 1770 he published the “Description and Use of the Compound Microscope, as Made and Sold by William Fraser.” His retail premise was at Ferguson’s Head, Duke’s Court St. Martins Lane until about 1780, when he moved to 3 New Bond St. In 1799 he went into partnership with his son Alexander as “Fraser & Son”, which continued until William died in 1812. The business was taken over by Hawks Grice in 1815 and by Edward Dixey in 1817, eventually becoming C.W. Dixey and Sons.

Tortoiseshell drafting sets are extremely rare, with shagreen being much more common. examples can be seen in collections including the Smithsonian Museum and Alpern Collection at Columbia University:


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US Instrumentum

Instrumentum specializes in high quality 17th and 18th century scientific instruments for architecture, mathematics and navigation. We have collected antique instruments for over 20 years with a focus on early and rare European architectural drafting sets, dividers, and rules. If you are interested in something particular please contact us at Image galleries of our inventory can be viewed on Pinterest and Facebook at the following links:

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