An exceptional traveling etui of drawing instruments by Michael Butterfield dating to the 18th century. Early wood and leather covered case in very fine condition with waxed green leather upper and lid. Contains ten instruments including finely engraved brass sector, square and protractor all signed “Butterfield AParis,” small and large dividers with porte crayon and inking attachments, turned brass and steel ruling pen with porte crayon, ebony straight rule with ogee molding, and brass plumb bob. Large compass divider is marked with the name “Lugnif,” perhaps the owner. Considering the excellent condition of the case and the principal instruments, this is a very fine and rare piece.
Michael Butterfield (c. 1635-1724) was an English Instrument maker who immigrated to Paris around 1663. He initially traded in rue Neuve-des-Fosses, faubourg Saint-Germaine 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 in 1678 and was a member and juror of the Corporation des Fondeurs. Amongst Butterfield’s patrons were the French Royal Court, l‘Académie Royale des Sciences, the Paris Observatory, and Tsar Peter the Great. Though Butterfield is most famous for the pocket sundial with adjustable bird gnomon known as the Butterfield Dial, he made all types of instruments including very fine sectors, drawing and surveying instruments which may be seen in many museums.
This set is characteristic of 18th century French drafting sets such as those illustrated by Nicholas Bion in his 1723 publication Traité de la construction et principaux usages des instruments de mathématique. A similar set of drawing instruments can be found in the Smithsonian Museum:
And in various past sales:
Dimensions: 18.5 cm case height.
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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@example.com. Image galleries of our inventory can be viewed on Pinterest and Facebook at the following links: