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CIVIL WAR US NAVY NAVIGATOR’S PARALLEL RULER – MKD “USN 1862” IN THE ORIGINAL BOX:  A very unique offering, this Civil War US Navy Parallel Rule Set has survived in excellent condition and intact with the original pasteboard box, and is stamped on one of the brass fittings, “USN 1862”, indicating this set was provided at the beginning of the Civil War.   

A standard navigation tool, the parallel rulers are used in conjunction with navigation charts for plotting a ship’s course, and every ship would have had at least one set, and quite possibly every officer would have had his own set The set consists of two straight-edges hinged to maintain a parallel orientation.  The navigator would move one edge while keeping the other edge in place, allowing him to move the rule across the chart while maintaining the same angle of travel.    

Measuring a standard 12” long, each of the two rules are 1 ¼” wide.  Featuring nicely patinated brass mounts, the black rules are made of gutta-percha, a natural latex discovered in the mid-19th Century that was made from the sap of a species of the Palaquium trees - known in native Malaysian as “getah perca”, hence the name - native to the South Pacific region.  Gutta-percha had gained popular use by the time of the Civil War and today is most often encountered as the material used to make image cases, pistol grips, and small personal items.  Having much the same properties as modern synthetic plastics, gutta-percha would be a natural choice for finely made instruments such as these parallel rulers, as the material would not warp when exposed to the continuously wet environment aboard ship.   

This set of rules is in “like new” condition, showing no signs of wear or use, and all of the edges retain crisp, sharp lines with no nicks or dents, and all of the surfaces retain the original bright polish.  The brass hinges and knobs have a very nice aged patina and the “USN 1862” stamping on the one hinge is clear and legible.  The “sliding tray” box has seen some significant wear, but it is still intact for the most part.  One end of the box is missing and the other end could use some repair, but all the wear is commensurate with the passage of the time this piece has been in existence.  The set of rules are a perfect fit for the box and from all appearances, the box is definitely original to the rules.   

This is very unique piece of US Navy Civil War history, combining condition, attractive design and function.  (0313)  $350 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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