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Dating Instruments

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  • pideesquare
    In this field generalizations are unreliable at best, but with the almost total demise of K&E, Dietzgen, etc. (Post became part of the Teledyne organization
    Message 1 of 1 , May 4 11:38 AM
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      In this field generalizations are unreliable at best, but with the
      almost total demise of K&E, Dietzgen, etc. (Post became part of the
      Teledyne organization and Bruning was absorbed by
      Addressograph-Multigraph) the only reliable source for dating
      information is the old catalogs, and they are becoming harder and
      harder to come by, except occasionally at prices impractical for the
      ordinary collector.
      Patent dates, if stamped on the insrument, can sometimes place a set
      in an approximate time frame, but that only obtains if the patent in
      question was current at the time of manufacture. Most modern leg
      compasses of the "Square" or "American" pattern employ the Alteneder
      pivot joint which was almost universally adopted by German makers
      early in the twentieth century after Alteneder's original patent
      expired. Patents quoted by manufacturers other than Alteneder usually
      refer to straightening devices or other "improvements" to the
      original patent. Apparently K&E was still employing the older
      "tongue" joint as late as 1903.
      A "Paragon" set, employing the Alteneder Joint, in my possession,
      was purchased by the original owner in 1916, thus placing the
      adoption of the Alteneder system to the first decades of the
      twentieth century. British instrument makers (Harling, Stanley, etc.)
      seem to have not adopted the Alteneder joint except for "Flat" style
      instruments based on Richter designs.
      It is interesting that the top quality square pattern instruments
      such as K&E "Paragon", and Post "Primo" did not emply straightening
      devices. Dietzgen's "Gem Union" employed several of these devices but
      their basic design followed the Alteneder pattern. I have not been
      able to ascertain just which feature is the subject of the patent
      dates stamped into early instruments by Schoerner (including those
      marked "Technical Supply Co, Tesco, or other variation.) but all
      indications are that it refers to the straightening device, which
      seems to been employed only in "student" and lesser quality
      instruments, not by the premium brands.
      In my collection is an obviously top quality set marked with a five
      pointed star on the inside of the legs of the compasses and large
      dividers, almost identical to contemporary Alteneder compasses except
      in minute detail, and marked "Germany". The center screw bow
      instruments appear identical in quality and detail to contemporary
      Paragon instruments, and the ruling pens are, indeed, marked "K&E",
      fit the recesses in the case perfectly, and do not appear to be
      replacements. This leads to the question of whether K&E might have
      featured a "Star" quality at some time in the twenties and thirties.
      I would be interested in further discussion of issues relating to the
      foregoing observations.
      thanks,
      pideesquare.
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