Antique Drawing Instrument Collection - Stanley London Bakelite Cased Set

Bookmark this page Stanley London Bakelite Cased Set
  • Maker: Stanley London
  • Date: c1930
  • Description and Notes:

    The case of this high quality, now extremely rare set is made of Bakelite, which was described as the "Perma Case" in the 32nd "U" edition of Stanley's catalogue as:

    ...moulded from a new material which is heat-, damp-, and pest-proof. There being no covering to wear, the pleasing apperance of the material, which closely resambles walnut, will last for years. Users in tropical countries will find these cases a very great boon.

    In fact, Bakelite is an early form of plastic invented in 1913 by L. H. Baekeland. Consequently, this material had largely been used on Art Deco artifacts and furniture such as sculptures, radio cases, and lamp stands. The style of this case is also of typical Art Deco design, simple yet elegant.

    According to Drawing Instruments, 1580-1980, Stanley London was founded by W. F. Stanley in 1853 at Great Turnstile, Holborn. Additional shops at 3-4 Great Turnstile and 286 High Holborn were established a couple of years later. The case stamp of this set is identical to that of the tubular compass shown on p. 10 of Tools of the Imagination, and which is dated to c1890. Most of the instruments in this set, however, are of the mass produced "government standard pattern" introduced by the company in the first quarter of the twentieth century. Indeed, a very similar set can be found on p. 268 of the Dictionary of British Scientific Instruments published in 1921.

    This set is complete and is in like new condition, the instruments appear to be unused, as they still sealed with a coat of anti rust grease upon acquisition. All of the instruments are signed either "Stanley London" or "Stanley". They are made of German silver (electrum) and stainless steel, the handle of the ruling pens are made of ivory. In addition, there are two unique features associated with this set. The first is that the handles of the main compass, the divider, and the two double-jointed bows are all equipped with a ball bearing type self centering mechanism. The function of which is similar to that of Georg Schoenner's patent. It should also be noted that Stanley's flat pattern had been imitated by contemporary Britsh makers such as Harling and was referred to as the "British Empire" pattern, but they are seldom equipped with the self centering handle. The construction of the larger ruling pen (numbered as U2061 in the U edition of the Stanley catalogue) is also quite unique, as unlike other British made pens, the lower blade of which is swing jointed to the upper blade through the adjustment screw, and can be swivel opened for cleaning by unscrewing the fixing knob to its top position, it also has a large indexed adjusting screw to indicate thickness of line, as shown in this picture.

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