Stock Number: 9298


For sale, antique scroll of linear measure comparisons. This is most interesting in its presentation of 16 different regional linear measures, finely subdivided.


9 inches (23 cm) tall case; 42-1/2" (108 cm) long scroll


c. early 19th century

Country of manufacture


Category: Calculating


REMARKABLE LINEAR MEASURE COMPARISON SCROLL, German, early 19th century, signed “Leipzig, im Magazin für Industrie und Literatur.” A heavy card tube, 9″ (23 cm) long, is bound in red paper (simulating Morocco leather), bearing labels for the “Ellenmaass = Tabelle” within, plus identifications of sixteen different linear measures for the ell, mostly local German ones. Included are the Augsburg Elle, the Brabant Elle, the St. Gallen Leinwand, the Russian Archine, and even the French Meter. Rolled within the tube, and wound up by wood handles, is a 42-1/2″ (108 cm) long thick paper scroll with sixteen very detailed scales which align with the legends on the tube. The scales run variously from zero up to anywhere from 35 to 64 units, with subdivisions every tenth as well as every twelfth unit. Condition is fine noting some exterior soiling and some small paper losses on the tube ends.

According to the labels, this unusual scroll gives comparisons of sixteen of the most common ell measures used in commerce, both German and foreign. The ell was originally defined as the length of the forearm from elbow to tip of middle finger. It evolved into many different regional standard measures, typically about a yard long.

A most rare device, the only example we have encountered.

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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, and can be contacted at [email protected].

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