Collection of Mathematical Instruments

Mathematical Instruments


Before elctronic devices and computers were developed, mechanical tools, namely drafting instruments, slide rules and planimeters, were widely-used during the daily practice of engineers and carthographers. Among these relatively simple instruments, there existed many different and expensive devices for special purposes, e.g. momentum planimeters, coordinatographs or integraphs. Although these tools look very cumbersome from today's perspective, they significantly facilitated engineering work at that time. As electronic devices and computers emerged during the second half of the 20. century, the importance of mechanical drafting and calculating instruments declined more and more. Today, these instruments have completely disappeared from the professional routine of engineers and cartographers.


This collection documents the development and production of mathematical instruments in Switzerland. During industrialization in the 19th century, Swiss makers played a substantial part in the development and improvement of such instruments. Leading makers were the company Kern in Aarau, which became well known with the production of drafting instruments, Jakob Amsler in Schaffhouse und Gottlieb Coradi in Zurich. Until the end of the 19th century, the products of these companies were much in demand due to their high quality and precision.

On the different pages, you find a lot of information on instruments and makers, many original documents for download as well as an image gallery. Please note that many of the pages are not yet available in English. Just switch to the German version to have access to the information. Enjoy browsing around!


In order to complete my collection, I always buy special instruments or original documents of Swiss makers of mathematical instruments. Of course, any information or comments on these pages or on the shown objects are very appreciated.

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