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Stephens & Co. - Riverton, CT

  Notice of Mr. L. C. Stephens’ Patent Combination Rule - Journal of the Franklin Institute, Vol.67, January 1859 (Philadelphia, PA: John E. Frazer, Editor)  

In January 1859 issue of Journal of the Franklin Institute published a Notice of Mr. L. C. Stephens’ Patent Combination Rule.

The notice contains a detailed description of the tool and various examples of the use of this Combination Rule.

The Stephens & Co. produced this rule based on the patent No. 19,105 granted to Lorenzo C. Stephens on January 12, 1858.

The rule is made of boxwood or ivory and combines in itself a carpenter's rule, spirit-level, square, plumb, bevel, indicator, brace-scale, draughting scale, T square, protractor, right-angled triangle, and with a straight edge can be used as a parallel ruler.

I included a few photographs showing the Combination Rule most likely made in the 1860s, before an introduction of a model numbering system. Instead of the well-known designation of this rule as a No. 36, stamped on the body of the rule; mark shows only a patent date. WK


To the Committee on Publications: Notice of Mr. L. C. Stephens’ Patent Combination Rule

Gentlemen: As all simple and comparatively accurate instruments for the use of engineers and mechanics, whereby they are enabled with facility to make measurements and calculations are of importance, I would call their attention through your Journal to a combination rule manufactured by L. C. Stephens & Co., of Pine Meadow, Connecticut.

This rule is composed of two arms of 6 inches in length, each folding together by one joint; when folded, it is 1-3/8 inches wide and 3/8 of an inch thick, and is protected by strong brass binding; its weight only slightly exceeds the ordinary pocket rule.

The combination consists of its having a spirit level let into the upper brass binding of one of the six-inch arms - the glass is let into the rule and protected by a brass plate put on with screws, and therefore can be removed and replaced in case it should accidentally be broken.

There is a steel blade shutting into the other arm, having the axis upon which it moves near the opposite extremity from the joint of the two arms proper.
When this blade is opened out from the arm, and is raised so as to form an angle of 90° with said arm, it is prevented from opening further by two stops in the arm, one placed below the axis and the other above.

The upper arm, or that containing the level, can then be closed down - the steel blade fitting into a slit at the outer end of the arm. In this end there is an eccentric, which, at pleasure, can be made to press slightly against the blade, and thus hold it rigid.

One side of the blade is marked with lines which show the value of the angle formed by the two arms of the rule, the blade being moved until the under edge of the slit arm is coincident with the mark on the blade showing the required angle then the two inner, or two outer edges of the arms will show the containing lines of the angle.

The other side of the blade is marked in inches and twelfths. The inner edge of the arm in which the blade closes is also divided into inches and twelfths, so that when the blade is in a position at right angles with this arm it may form a brace scale.

The inner edges of the arm holding the level is also marked, so that it may show the angle formed by the blade and its own arm.

The arms on their sides are divided into inches, eighths, and sixteenths, as in ordinary rules, also into tenths of inches, and also into several scales for the convenience of draughtsman.

The uses of this convenient little instrument are very numerous. When the blade is closed into its arm and the arms are shut together, it is a spirit level.

When the blade is opened at an angle of 90° with its arm, and the other arm shut down so that the slit holds the blade rigid, the blade is perpendicular to the edge containing the level, and the instrument can then be used as a plumb.

The combination of a level and moving blade, and arm for obtaining angles, will, to any one in possession of the instrument, suggest various methods of obtaining heights, distances, &c.

Besides the above uses, for all measurements requiring only the ordinary foot rule, it will, from the sub-divisions on the sides of the arms, answer the purpose.

H. J. T.


1. Image with a patent background courtesy of Jim Bode

2. Images courtesy of website



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