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I had a few messages asking for more of the ménage-a-trois of two-foot, two-fold carpenters slide rules that formed the background to my Markup Monday post – so here they are, in their own mini-flatlay Friday, ready for their close-up!
On top, we have a John Rabone & Sons ‘Vulcan’ rule, no model number, with their famously sinuous hinge design registered in 1869. I love the elegant (and rather rubenesque) flowing curves of these hinges – they are even prettier on the other side, without the slide that clips one leg. This one dates from the early 1870s, and appears to have been cleaned by a previous owner, although not to the extent where I find it any less desirable.
In the middle, a Stanley Rule & Level Company No. 26 with the square hinge. Stanley put its branding on the opposite side to the slide on this one – but I thought it was more important to show the slide detail… This one probably dates somewhere in 1890s, and was also cleaned by a previous owner – again, not to the point where I think it becomes unattractive.
Finally, a really nice, early example of an L C Stephens No. 9 – the boxwood has aged and darkened to a rich amber color, and the brass has acquired its own darker patina. This has never been cleaned – by me or anyone else – other than a gentle dusting, and dates from the 1860s.
On the topic of cleaning, rule collectors have a wide variety of opinions – some of which are passionately held! I generally gently clean every rule I acquire, to remove any surface dirt. If the rule is in great shape, or is super-valuable, that’s as far as I go. If it’s more of a commodity, or it’s in poorer condition, perhaps with stains or paint splatter, or heavy oxidation on the brass or on the steel hinge pins in the pivot hinge, I will do a still-gentle-but-deeper clean, using lemon oil and 0000 steel wool, and put a Renaissance Wax final coat on.