Anonymous instruments

#5 Turnabout gothic compasses

A brass turnabout 'gothic' compass as first illustrated in Buron's 1844 catalogue.

inset: Illustration from Pape Successor's 1920 catalogue showing that the gothic compass was still being sold well into the 20th century. [catalogues de constructeurs CNUM].

#4 Compas à bascule, probably 18th century.

French silver turnabout compass (also called turn-in compasses, in French compas à bascule), case 151x29x19mm.

Fig.  6A: 3 early turnabout compass 1844 Buron

Fig.  6B: earliest known illustration of a turnabout compass, 1723 Stone/Bion5.



1. Chambers Cyclopaedia 1728 Volume 1, page 287:

Turn-up COMPASSES, a late Contrivance to save the trouble of changing the Points : The Body is like the common compasses; towards the bottom of the Legs, without side, are added two other Points besides the usual ones; the one carrying a drawing Pen- point the other a Porte Craion; both adjusted so as to turn round, and so be in the way of use, or out of it, as occasion requires.

2. Hambly, Maya; Drawing instruments 1580-1980, p. 82. 

3. Instruments of Science: An Historical Encyclopedia  edited by Robert Bud, Deborah Jean Warner; p.191.

4. Prix-Courant de Buron 1844, p. 99, fig. 245. []

5. Edmund Stone, Nicolas Bion; The Construction and Principal Uses of Mathematical Instruments, 1723, plate IX. [Internet Archive]

#3 French drawing set, late 18th to early 19th century.

A high quality set of brass and steel instruments featuring fixed proportional compasses, triangular compasses and 2 spring bows. Missing are hair dividers(?), a pencil attachment, and an unknown item.

Studer, Johann Gotthelf; Beschreibung der verschiedenen Zeichnen- und vorzüglich beim Bergbau nöthigen Vermessungsinstrumente, Dresden 1811. Plate 1. 

#2 French drawing set, 18th century.

Tooled leather covered case lined with natural chamois, lacking are a pair of dividers and compasses. Lower 2 objects are goat's foot ruling pen fittings, one on the left is a dotting pen. In the lid is a wooden parallel rule, a protractor with diagonal scales, and small flat dividers.

Fig. 3: brass protractor, the unit of length on the diagonal scales corresponds closely to the French Toise of 1949mm. (97/50=1940)

Fig. 4: curious flat brass 110mm dividers with engravings of a sun and a star. 

Fig. 5: wooden parallel rule.

Fig. 6: goat's foot ruling pen and dotter.

#1 French drawing set, mid 18th century.

Set of brass instruments most likely French ca. 1750. An almost identical set is illustrated on page 68 of Antique Tools and Instruments from the Nessi collection 2004. The case is covered with tooled leather and inside lined with chamois. Dividers, ruling pen and pen inserts have hand-cut paddle wing nuts, except the pencil insert which has a soldered on washer nut. Two little dishes for mixing water-colours or ink and the clip holding the ruler in the lid were originally missing and now replaced by new fabrications.