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Mathematical Treasures - Austrian measuring rod

Frank J. Swetz and Victor J. Katz

Austrian measuring rod

Austrian measuring rod for an ell. The rod bears the date 1732. The ell as a unit of measure evolved from the ancient cubit, the distance from the tip of a man’s middle finger to the “point” of his elbow. At this time, the ell was still used as a measure in the tailoring business. Its exact length varied considerably among European cities. This one is approximately 26” long, more exactly 65.8cm. This rod is particularly interesting due to its curious indication of fractional divisions.

Index of Mathematical Treasures

Index of Mathematical Objects


Frank J. Swetz and Victor J. Katz, "Mathematical Treasures - Austrian measuring rod," Convergence (January 2011)

Mathematical Treasures from the Smith and Plimpton Collections at Columbia University