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    Thomas Jefferson: Parallel Rule Drafting Instrument. While these tools at first glance connote Jefferson's architectural accomplishments, they also speak to the scientific and intellectual interests common to learned men of his class and standing. These technical instruments assisted the study of mathematics and science, including but not limited to astronomy, geometry, engineering, architecture and land surveying. To that end, there was no specialist manufacturer of drawing instruments until the 19th century.

    Thomas Jefferson's father, Peter Jefferson, was a mapmaker and land surveyor, so it is thought that both tools and design acumen were passed from father to son. The Younger Jefferson's practice of design is evidenced by surviving city plans, garden designs and residential schemes.

    The parallel rule, invented in 1584 for the purposes of navigation at sea, was not widely used until the 18th century.

    Interestingly, this parallel rule is without units of measurement. As such, it is thought that the instrument was used primarily for the drawing of parallel lines, most likely for the sketching of scale plans and architectural designs. This small tool, 5.88" x 1.25", is comprised of two polished ebony slats connected with brass hinges of balustrade shape which allow the rule to pull apart and expand.

    It must be noted that this parallel rule shares material and design similarities with those of the Monticello collection. The implements demonstrate near identical design flourishes of the brass hinges and are both made of ebony. While similar in proportion and design, the parallel rule listed here is significantly smaller than those possessed by the Monticello estate.

    For more information on the history and provenance of this drafting instrument, please click here.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    Nov-Dec, 2011
    30th-1st Wednesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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