Not so long ago, metal spring-roll-up tape measures (which are common today) had not, yet, been invented. Printed cloth tapes might be used for measuring long distances, though two people were required to unroll and pull-taut the soft tape measure. The tape could then be retracted—like winding a fishing spool—into its leather or metal case. For smaller jobs, a boxwood folding pocket ruler, like the one shown above, was de rigeuer. This one, made by Stanley in New Britain, Connecticut, was the go-to tool for many a carpenter, cabinetmaker, or contractor. Stanley made variations on this tool; different styles varied as to their measurement graduations, whether the numbers read right-to-left (or vice versa), and some had add-on features (like bevelled edges for drawing lines or extending calipers for measuring at the end). They were all fitted with brass mounts, though the style of the hinge did vary over the years. The ruler above, a two-foot measure, is marked in eighths on one side and sixteenths on the other. Stanley called it their model #61.
Besides its practicality—its rigidity helps to ensure accurate measurements—it has an ease of use and an elegance of presentation. It would look equally at-home bound under an apron tie or stashed in the breast pocket of a tweedy blazer. It could also be useful carried in a glove box, in a briefcase or in a pencil cup atop the desk. Click on one of the photos above to learn more about it.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248