The history of mathematics has it
beginnings around 2000 BC as evidenced by the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus, but
the use of complex instruments for calculation only started emerging with
the invention of Napiers Bones in the
early part of the seventeenth century and an adding machine by Sir Samuel
Morland in 1666. Whilst the latter is impossibly rare, several examples of
Napier’s Bones have, in recent years, come on the market. One dealer, David
Coffeen, a regular exhibitor at the Scientific Instrument fair, has one set
available on his website: www.etesseract.com.
Throughout the eighteenth, nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries, the slide rule held a preeminent position as the
calculation device of choice. Many examples are still available at prices between
£10 and £1000 making it quite possible to put together a good collection for a
reasonable outlay. Made from boxwood, ivory and metal, they were made for both
general purpose mathematical calculations using logarithms but also for more
complex situations adapting formulae for solving problems for customs and
excise, shipbuilding, water flow through pipes and many others.
Mechanical adding machines, although
invented many years before, began to be developed in the nineteenth century.
The Thomas de Colmar machine was one of
these and is a very elegant device which now has an auction value of
several thousand pounds for a good example.
There will definitely be some good examples
of mechanical calculators, slide rules and other related instruments at the next
Scientific Instrument Fair, 17 April 2016, at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel,
Southampton Row, London.
Some examples are shown below

Curta calculator 

The Addix 

The Contostyle 

Fuller's Time Telegraph 

The Boucher Calculator 

The Supremathic 
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