HAND CARVED FOLDING SQUARE / LEVEL / RULE, French, late 17th / early 18th c. This wooden “square” has hinged 6-3/8″ (16 cm) legs, one pierced and notched for plumb bob and string. The legs are boldly cut with scales of Rhine inches (“Pouces du Rhin”), and of Kings inches (“Pouces de Roy”) from 0 to 6 with subdivisions to twelfths, and with two further linear scales running 0 – 70 and 0 – 80 respectively. Condition is good noting slight wobble to the hinge. One leg is engraved “A autun,” perhaps a clue to its maker, the city of Autun lying on the Saône-et-Loire in Burgundy. The first wooden example of this instrument we have seen.
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David and Yola Coffeen both have enjoyed academic careers, as planetary astronomer and as linguist/educator. But since 1982 (yes, 1982!) they have been full-time dealers in early scientific and medical instruments, under the name Tesseract. Selling primarily by catalogue (over 100 issued so far) they also have a web presence at www.etesseract.com, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.