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Patent model of ship's model measurer

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Patent model of ship's model measurer
Photo by Hugh Talman, Negative #: 2006-23076


This object appears in the following sections:

Marine Patent Models — Complete Catalog: 1851-1869

Marine Patent Models — Building Ships

Patent model of ship's model measurer
Patent model of ship's model measurer

Ship's model measurer patent drawing
Ship's model measurer patent drawing

Ship's model measurer
Catalog #: 308,544, Accession #: 89,797
In collection
From the Smithsonian Collection

Abijah S. Hosley of New York City developed a caliper for measuring ship models. This is the patent model for his invention.

Physical Description
Abijah Hosley's model comprises two wooden posts attached to form an L. A curved handle projects from the top of the main post. A measuring arm slides along the bottom, its ivory scale and brass straight-edge rest still attached. A second, curved measuring arm, now missing, once slid perpendicular to the secondary post; its headstock is still attached to the threaded rod that once adjusted its position. The secondary post's ivory scale is also missing. Two thumb screws at one end of the device control the measuring arms. The model is also missing one of three cross arms from the main post. It is made of ebony with brass gears and threaded rods and measures.
Date Made:
New York
Transfer from the U.S. Patent Office

Vessel construction in the nineteenth century started with wooden models. Built to disassemble into pieces, the carefully shaped models would be taken apart and measured, and the measurements would be used to create full-sized patterns for fabricating the vessel's components. If drawings were created at all, they too were based on measurements from models.

Hosley claimed his "ship's model measurer," with its pair of ruled scales and easily adjusted calipers, provided greater accuracy, greater speed, and greater ease of use than ordinary measuring devices.

A notice praising Hosley's device appeared in Scientific American while his patent application was still pending. "By means of this instrument...the ship builder obtains those necessary measurements which will enable him to construct a vessel in a much shorter space of time than can now be done by any means in use for that purpose. This is a very useful and beautiful invention indeed, and one which cannot fail to come into general use in a very short time." No records have yet been found to indicate the measurer's manufacture or widespread use.


Abijah S. Hosley, Ship's Model Measurer, U.S. patent no. 8,307, Aug. 19, 1851.

"Ship Measurer," Scientific America, vol. 6, no. 36 (May 24, 1851), 284.

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