Napier's bones

Interestingly John Napier invented many other aids to calculation. Perhaps the most famous of these are his bones. When laid out in the correct manner they can be used as a set of multiplication tables.

This is a set of fruitwood Napier's Bones, England, dated 1717, with broad cubes and square rod, and ten four-sided multiplier rods, on rectangular tabulat with fixed multiplier rod and support rod, in fruitwood slip case with stamped date and fleurs-de-lis and incised geometric decoration to both sides, (lacking cover), wd. 3 3/4 in.Made by the Webber family, colonial Boston cabinet makers and handed down by descent. Came to auction 2001. Photos reproduced here with permission of David Baum.

[Slide rule page] [Chris Sangwin]
Copyright © 2002 Chris Sangwin.