Fine ca. 1700 artillery calipers signed Butterfield

Fine ca. 1700 artillery calipers signed Butterfield


Country of manufacture


Categories: Scientific, Calculating


Rare and fine brass artillery calipers by Butterfield dating to circa 1700. Signed “Butterfield AParis” in floral script and engraved ‘Calibres des pieces’ and ‘Diametre et Poids des boulets’ on one face and ‘lignes” and “Pouces de Roy’ on the other side. A numerical scale of artillery diameters is engraved on one leg with corresponding notches inside the leg for the pointer. Features flower engraved compass joints and steel tips to the calipers and to the pointer. A rare piece in perfect working condition, unpolished with a nice even patina.


Gunnery calipers of this design were used in artillery from the late 15th century onward and were described by both Bion and Diderot (see final images). 18th century French gunner’s calipers in complete condition are quite rare compared to their British equivalents. Similar examples are found in the Hermitage, Adler Planetarium, and elsewhere:


Michael Butterfield was born circa 1635 in England and immigrated to Paris around 1663. He initially set up business in rue Neuve-des-Fosses, faubourg Saint-Germaine, trading under the sign Aux Armes d’Angleterre, however by 1685 he had relocated to a workshop on the Quai de l’Horloge. Butterfield was appointed Ingenieur du Roi (Engineer to the King) and was a member and juror of the Corporation des Fondeurs. He also published several tracts on his innovations. Butterfield’s patrons included the French Royal Court, the Royal Academy of Science, the Paris Observatory, and the Russian Tsar Peter the Great. A maker of many types of high quality instruments, he was probably best known for the pocket sundial with adjustable bird gnomon or “Butterfield dial”.

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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 [email protected]. Image galleries of our inventory can be viewed on Pinterest and Facebook at the following links:

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