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probably made in London

Postcard of Pantograph.
© National Museums Scotland


A pantograph is an instrument for copying, reducing and enlarging illustrations. This brass example (pictured here with its fitted mahogany case) was made around 1800, and retailed by W. & S. Jones, scientific instrument makers based in London.

The pantograph comprises four hinged arms with two sliding, and one fixed, sockets. The arms are supported on ivory wheels. The positions of the tracing point and the pencil are adjustable for different ratios of reduction or enlargement of the figure to be copied.

The pantograph was first devised in the early 17th century by Christopher Scheiner, and improved 150 years later by the Parisian instrument-maker Claude Langlois. It proved particularly useful for cartographers and architectural draughtsman, and there was also a popular amateur market, as drawing skills were perceived as an important social skill in the early 19th century.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-104-216-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1931.131
Date: Around 1800
c. 1800
Material: Brass, ivory rollers / mahogany box
Dimensions: 29.25" L (main arms) / 30.25" x 6.25" x 4.00"
What: Pantograph / box
Subject: 19. MATHEMATICS (Departmental Classification)
Who: W. and S. Jones, 30 Holborn, London (Instrument maker)
Where: England, London
Description: Brass pantograph in a mahogany box, by W. and S. Jones, 30 Holborn, London, c. 1800
  • For the development of the pantograph, see Turner, Anthony, Early Scientific Instruments 1400-1800. London: 1987, pp 82-4 
  • Morrison-Low, Alison & Simpson, Allen, 'A New Dimension: A Context for Photography before 1860' in Stevenson, Sara, Light from the Dark Room. Edinburgh: 1995, p 22 
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