Vintage folding carpenters rule

  • Advertise with us

« back to Hand Tools forum

Forum topic by Willhenry posted 08-12-2013 07:07 AM 2560 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Willhenry's profile


2 posts in 1779 days

08-12-2013 07:07 AM

Topic tags/keywords: vintage ivory folding rules

My very first thread, and I rant – Sorry. Hello to all my brother/sister Lumberjocks. First of all, go through your toolbox, cause ya just never know what ya got in there sometimes. I need a little help figuring out my old carpenters folding rule. This week I got all wrapped up in researching it, and to my surprise, I found out that I have quite a gem. I always knew it was special, so I never used it. From the markings I have established that it is over 150yrs old c1830-1863, and extremely rare. I was totally taken back by that. It’s an E.A.Stearns&Co/Brattleboro,Vt No47BD, 2ft 4fold ivory/German-silver bound folding rule. Some ivory rules of that era are worth big bucks to collectors – hundreds to thousands, but, I’m just so grateful to own a little piece of ’Americana’ that this baby’s staying in my family as an heirloom. It’s even got a history, which makes it more interesting, and, in fact, I just may be only the second owner of this fine tool as the guy that owned it before me died over 50yrs ago of old age.

Okay, enough with the technical stuff, now the questions:
I can only guess, but, does anyone know what the BD stands for in No47BD. I’ve seen just 47’s and 47B’s, but, never a 47BD. Also, it has an E scale and an M scale – so what’s that for? It also has micro scales down to 1/4inch, which I assume are for the draftsmen.
Any input would be helpful, or if you have another one similar then here’s a place to show it off.

8 replies so far

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

3578 posts in 2281 days

#1 posted 08-12-2013 12:05 PM

Welcome to LJs, Wilhenry! I’ve been on about 18 months or so, and I think you’ll find that there are a lot of experts here that are willing to share their expertise freely.

Nice find on the four-fold rule. It’s definitely in great shape. I can’t tell you anything specifically about your item though. Can you identify any relationship between the E and M scales that would offer a clue? I was thinking English and Metric, but I doubt that measuring tools had English and Metric scales 150 years ago.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View waho6o9's profile


8211 posts in 2606 days

#2 posted 08-12-2013 01:45 PM

View LRR's profile


25 posts in 1852 days

#3 posted 08-12-2013 02:33 PM

I don’t think that I would call your post a rant. I would call it a gloat and deservedly so. Very nice rule.

View papajon's profile


54 posts in 1841 days

#4 posted 08-12-2013 03:13 PM

Perhaps Engineering and Mechanical scales?

View JustJoe's profile


1554 posts in 2067 days

#5 posted 08-12-2013 03:36 PM

Could it be big B, little D (Bound)?

-- This Ad Space For Sale! Your Ad Here! Reach a targeted audience! Affordable Rates, easy financing! Contact an ad represenative today at JustJoe's Advertising Consortium.

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3338 days

#6 posted 08-12-2013 03:37 PM

A nice tool that anyone would be proud to own. Looks too nice to use but great to display… maybe the BD is for Black & Decker.

View jdmaher's profile


430 posts in 2609 days

#7 posted 08-12-2013 04:35 PM

That’s gorgeous!

I hope you moved it out of the bottom of the toolbox. Silver and ivory are pretty precious materials to be clattering around gettin’ bumped and scratched.

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View Willhenry's profile


2 posts in 1779 days

#8 posted 08-12-2013 07:42 PM

Thanx to all for stopping by. Great answers. I’ll try to cover y-all right here and now. For the collectors, sorry, I’m keepin it. Also, I haven’t decided on an avatar yet – later for that.

Don, metric/english sounds good. The scales are both 7 1/8 inches long. E 0 to 24, M 0 to 34. Both graduated in quarters. There is IMO a metric scale running the full length of the rule, 0 to 20, graduated in 10ths. Waho, thanx for the links, they are familiar. LRR, thanx for the kudos. Papajon, Enginnering/Mechanical sounds very promissing – is that a guess? Greg, Black and Decker was funny.
There is also an inch scale graduated in 12th’s. And, yes JJOE, Big B small D, as in the last photo. Have you been on this gig before? My guess is B=second generation, and D has to do with drafting. JD, it’s never actually seen my tool box. I aquired it and kept it wrapped in felt safely tucked away for the past 20 years. I will some day make a nice display case for it. It’s not really German or even silver. It’s an alloy of copper and nickel. But, it is definatly ivory. Doesn’t seem like an every day use tool to me. Maybe an award, or gift, or something the more flashy of craftsman might use to impress clients with.
I’ve pretty much covered the whole net trying to get info on this rule. I am going to visit a local machin shop soon and see what they think. I just want to thouroughly document it so whoever in the family ends up with it will know it’s history and use.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics