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Exceptionally Rare & Historically Important Micrometer by PALMER

Figure 3 in above shows a Bridgeport Brass Co. micrometer which is of the "inversion" indicating method I referred to earlier. Hash marks on the thimble rather than on the frame - makes for a very confusing reading - and liable to error.

Somewhere out there is a woodcut showing a similar inversion reading micrometer which pre-dates Palmer. Maybe the last quarter of the 18th century?

Did anyone see the B&S sheet metal gauge that sold yesterday on Ebay. Item 150563157177.

Joe
 
Joe,

A number of us were watching the B&S "Sheet Metal Gauge" mic that sold yesterday. None of us realistically bid because of the poor condition. But, it was an early example brought $185!

:cheers:
 
...Now the name "Palmer", which is an English derived word; coming from both medieval English and probably also Norman French..."one who palms" ( collects money etc). " it can also mean one who uses his Palms for some working process, such as working hides or cloth, etc. The exact etymology is unclear.

English-based names are not uncommon in France, due to the interchange during the 1600s and 1700s of both Soldiers and Businessmen...General MacMahon ( late 1800s) was the descendant of a Scottish soldier at the time of the exile of the Stuarts to France ( 1640-1660s); many English entrepreneurs came to France after the Napoleonic wars to set up industries ( France had lagged behind in the Industrial revolution...one of the causes of the 1789 Revolution--unemployment)....

The only origin I knew of for the word or name palmer was the term for a pilgrim who brought back a palm leaf as a sign he had been to Jerusalem:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palmer_(pilgrim)

And, connecting Palmer with France, my only recollection was the very expensive red wine, and it terns out that name came from a new English owner in 1814:

Château Palmer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Larry
 
And here are some more photos of it...... how, as in step by step would you think they might have made these? Forged, machined, filed, cast?

It would have been a fairly simple matter to make dies to forge 'key-hole' profile bars. If there was not a forge on site I would imagine they job it out easily enough; I think the length of keyhole stock needed for the current batch could be forged out all at once and then cut into shorter lengths for each tool. (They could have even had the bars rolled if they were using enough to justify custom rolls.) The round section could be cut away to form the yoke and the tapered section cut away to form the barrel.

I do not think it would be practical to form the square cornered shape by bending; in addition to the labor required to upset the square corners bending would tend to thin the outer edge of the yoke, precisely in the spot where your example is thickest.

My initial thought had been that the barrel and anvil would be silver brazed to the yoke, but I can see a bit of discoloration in the second picture that goes right across my hypothetical seam (Just to the left of the micrometer anvil) so I think it's all one piece. I had thought that the simplest way was for the barrel to be brazed on after turning, but then I remembered that brazing would have involved sticking the whole assembly in a forge. That additional complication makes large amounts of bench-work justified.

I haven't looked at Diderot's Encyclopedia lately, but I suspect our instrument makers did not have a forge in their shop. I will check and report back.
 
This is amazing, in the last 48 hours more information has been found on Palmer than has seen ever before in English....... I want to thank all those that are working on this.... I am getting dozens of emails each day from France, England and all over the US..... we now know....

He was born in Paris on Feb. 10 1811......

My FRIENDS have found a number of mentions of Palmer in French publications from the period. These include him winning a silver medal and what looks like another patent. His business also looks to be expanding quite a bit in the 1850's.... more on all this as soon as we get it translated......

In the Machinery article linked above it states.... "There did not seem to be any general appreciation of the importance of this tool until the year 1867, when it was seen by Joseph R. Brown and Lucian Sharpe,..."

Simply put I disagree with this statement!

To start with almost all we know about the evolution of the micrometer comes from Luther Burlingame, an employee of Brown & Sharpe Mfg. Co. He does a wonderful job of telling the company "line" and giving credit to his bosses. A perfect early example of controlling the media and getting your message out. Think of these facts...... B & S claims to have invented the graduating engine... a similar engine shows up in a French 1784 encyclopedia. They claim they invented the vernier caliper...... a similar one is shown in the 1816 edition of Bergeron...... and we know one reason Sharpe was brought into the business is because he was fluent in French. In a report by the "Newcomen Society" in 1949 Henry Sharpe wrote "..... He (Lucian Sharpe) is reported to have translated one or more French books into English for his own use and that of his shop mates" So we see the B & S Co was very familiar with French products and took credit for them....

Now back to Palmer.....

The micrometer as Palmer had made had to be in use otherwise;
Why would you take a 19 year old invention to a trade show if had not been excepted in use?
Why would you improve the design over the 19 years?
Why would you be making these in batches of 55 or more?
Is it possible B & S could not take credit for because it was well enough known in France at the time?
What real improvements did B & S really make from Palmers form? I suspect they were improvements in the method of manufacture..... Palmers may have been bench made, B & S's were machine made. Palmer's micrometer at the Smithsonian is dead on being checked with gauge blocks.
Why would the French call a micrometer a "Palmer" if Palmer's micrometer had not gained acceptance?

So you can see these might not have been quite so unimportant as B & S has lead us to believe..... hopefully more to come...... I wonder who made micrometers in France after Palmer? When did they first show in say Germany?
 
Thanks to Rivett and his "friends" for a facinating trip through history. From all of the discussion it is clear that inventive minds exist in all societies that need them.
 
This is amazing, in the last 48 hours more information has been found on Palmer than has seen ever before in English....... I want to thank all those that are working on this.... I am getting dozens of emails each day from France, England and all over the US..... we now know....

He was born in Paris on Feb. 10 1811......

My FRIENDS have found a number of mentions of Palmer in French publications from the period. These include him winning a silver medal and what looks like another patent. His business also looks to be expanding quite a bit in the 1850's.... more on all this as soon as we get it translated......

In the Machinery article linked above it states.... "There did not seem to be any general appreciation of the importance of this tool until the year 1867, when it was seen by Joseph R. Brown and Lucian Sharpe,..."

Simply put I disagree with this statement!

To start with almost all we know about the evolution of the micrometer comes from Luther Burlingame, an employee of Brown & Sharpe Mfg. Co. He does a wonderful job of telling the company "line" and giving credit to his bosses. A perfect early example of controlling the media and getting your message out. Think of these facts...... B & S claims to have invented the graduating engine... a similar engine shows up in a French 1784 encyclopedia. They claim they invented the vernier caliper...... a similar one is shown in the 1816 edition of Bergeron...... and we know one reason Sharpe was brought into the business is because he was fluent in French. In a report by the "Newcomen Society" in 1949 Henry Sharpe wrote "..... He (Lucian Sharpe) is reported to have translated one or more French books into English for his own use and that of his shop mates" So we see the B & S Co was very familiar with French products and took credit for them....

Now back to Palmer.....

The micrometer as Palmer had made had to be in use otherwise;
Why would you take a 19 year old invention to a trade show if had not been excepted in use?
Why would you improve the design over the 19 years?
Why would you be making these in batches of 55 or more?
Is it possible B & S could not take credit for because it was well enough known in France at the time?
What real improvements did B & S really make from Palmers form? I suspect they were improvements in the method of manufacture..... Palmers may have been bench made, B & S's were machine made. Palmer's micrometer at the Smithsonian is dead on being checked with gauge blocks.
Why would the French call a micrometer a "Palmer" if Palmer's micrometer had not gained acceptance?

So you can see these might not have been quite so unimportant as B & S has lead us to believe..... hopefully more to come...... I wonder who made micrometers in France after Palmer? When did they first show in say Germany?

Juergenwt-
Looks to me like the pictures show a 1mm pitch. This will have the "inch" people crying in their beer. But then - it is a "Microoo-Meter" not a "Micrahhhmeter". But here is one that could not have been in metric:
# Lucas Brunn (um 1572–1628), Deutschland – Mikrometerschraube 1609 (unsicher) - Translation: Lucas Brunn (around 1572 - 1628) Germany - Micrometer screw (not certain). (List of Inventors) What would he have used? Metric was not until Napoleon. Inches? Some other units of measurement? Most likely it was a invention having roots in the design and making of Telescopes. Now that could take us back a lot further.
 
Juergenwt

Yes it is metric..... The earlist micrometers were used in telescopes to measure the distance between planets.... see the above under Wm. Gascoigne. As to what scale they might have used before metric.... each city in Europe had their own system. From what is known, Palmer was the first to adapt the micrometer screw to a hand held instrument........ micrometer screws and hand held calipers had both existed but not together.
 
Excellent post! L.S. Starrett briefly references a micrometer he saw in France sometime before 1890 in "The Starrett Story" (Starrett Bulletin 1216) but makes no reference to the maker. Apparently, this was his inspiration for US Patent 433,311 in July of 1890.

I'm curious..

The Brown and Sharpe Palmer appears to have a serial number on the frame: "33".

Does your Palmer have a number in that location?
 
I think what you are seeing is MINE has what I believe to be assembly number 55 on it. The other one in a private collection is number 49, the Smithsonian's is #13. I do not believe these are all from the same batch, I think the Smithsonian one is a little earlier.

When I refer to assembly numbers these are the numbers stamped on each of the major parts after hand fitting, then often they are disassembled for finishing and reassembled in the correct order. You see type these numbers on guns, sewing machines and all sorts of products. I do not think the company ever would have kept any records as to what numbers went where and also the next batch would start over at # 1........ what we do not know is how many Palmer made in a batch, but it was at least 55. Just my guess.....

And thanks for all your nice comments on this thread.... this one has been a lot of work.
 
Kenneth Roberts in his seminal books on wooden planemaking describes the traditional method of making wooden planes: usually in groups of 7 of a kind. I've described the connection between this "7" and our modern affinity and use in corporate and military structure. You get disparate concepts below about four and people lose sight of the details in their boredom or diverted attention. Likewise concepts above the number 9 or so and people start to get confused by the multitude.

A planemaker would cut all the stock first, enough for seven planes. Then he would cut the opening for the blade and wedge. Then he would cut the "cheeks" to hold the wedge. Then he would cut the wedges to fit. All this done seven at a time. The planes might be numbered, more commonly in that age with a punchmark, figure mark or roman numerals, but such that the planemaker can tell one assembly as it forms from another - and to allow matching of component parts.

I think a lot of this was carried over into machine making, particularly in the first half of 19th century. In the latter half of the 19th century, machine making changed in a lot of shops to an "engineered" product created using the draftsman/dimensioned drawing/precision methods that I've mentioned.

I might expect Palmer to have continued the "7" concept, but he might have serial numbered the product successively. I think Pratt & Whitney worked this way since it's unlikely they would have machine space to create upwards of 35 6" Shapers at a time. Such as my circa 1875 P&W shaper which is Serial #35 or so. (not sure!)

Joe
 
I think larger machines like a planer would be serialized and most small stuff would not be. I'll have to read that part in Ken's book..... I never did much with woodworking tools so I would have missed it. The idea of 7 is interesting, I often make things in little groups..... somewhere be 3 and 12..... it is usually based on when I get tired of making the first part.

Years ago I was allowed to inspect the Louis XV microscope by Passemant at the Metropolitan Museum in NY. A related one sold at the Rothschild sale brought $ 1.6 Million. I got to take it apart and found 3 punch marks on each part...... meaning at least 3 were made... it was also interesting where there were multiple parts like the 3 legs they had roman numerals too...... these microscopes would have been completely taken apart for gilding after fitting........ that was quite an experience playing with that!
 
Rivett,

My point.....I agree with your comments about Burlingame's 'history', but would like to see more discussion from many folks to see if that ferrets out more content to back up your conclusions or disprove them..........So:

1. Should we dismiss Bulingames' account of the Palmer: I think your comments above about the Luther Burlingame company history are dead on correct. IMHO, it is an interesting time line, but factually colored because he was an employee (Superintendent, no less) and wasn't there with J. R and Lucien in the 1860's, so he is writing from hearsay, long after the fact about the Palmer. Or, is there an account from the two owners themselves?

2. Are those assembly number?: If your assertion that the numbers "55" (and the others on other Palmers) are assembly numbers, then one can be assured that the Palmer micrometer was a very popular product, having a large number made. I have no reason to doubt that the numbers are assembly numbers. Then, at 55 in manufacture at a time, one could expect there to be hundreds of them extant. But, probably not since metal from old, worn tools was melted for several wars, including WW1 and WW2. Could those numbers have any other meaning?

3. How successful was Palmer's company?: How many were made? I'm encouraging folks, especially those that read the French language, to search high and low for production records. They exist in French literature, just as the do in the USA for our manufacturing.

4. Just what was the Brown & Sharpe contribution to the Palmer designed micrometer that lead to the "Pocket Sheet Metal Gauge"? Can anyone identify an improvement over Palmer's micrometer other than better manufacturing? And, what are the manufacturing improvements?

Come on guys! Rivett has done a super job of starting a hunt for the facts. Indeed, he may well have stated them all. Even if so, there are more details you can help with.

:cheers:
 
What AntiqueMac says is so true.... the more eyes looking into this the more we find...... Jugs from HSM forum found this link..... I had never seen it. I never thought to look at a modern Japanese manufacture for the history of the micrometer. It is very well written....... one thing I wonder about they mention the lines on Palmer's micrometer were not evenly spaced? They seem to be pretty good.... I wonder where they got this information??

Again Thanks for the help.

http://www.mitutoyo.com/pdf/History_of_Micro.pdf
 
Well done

Well done Rivett,
Could you explain where Maudslay's 'Lord Chancellor' fits in with this history, i thought it pre-dated the Palmer micrometer. I know it was a bench model, perhaps you're calling the Palmer the first of what we use today?

Richard in Los Angeles
 
Well done Rivett,
Could you explain where Maudslay's 'Lord Chancellor' fits in with this history, i thought it pre-dated the Palmer micrometer. I know it was a bench model, perhaps you're calling the Palmer the first of what we use today?

Richard in Los Angeles
In the http://www.mitutoyo.com/pdf/History_of_Micro.pdf its listed as 1805, before the Palmer patent date of 1848.
 
Just to clarify....... I should say this is the first hand held affordable micrometer for use in the shop by normal workers. This would be opposed to Watt's (which will soon be back on display in London), Maudslay's and Whitworth's which were all bench mics suited more for a "laboratory" type environment and with exception of Whitworth I don't think were offered for sale to clients. The idea of a screw used to measure goes back hundreds of years before.

What Palmer did was the first to make and instrument we all still recognize as a hand held micrometer.
 
Who invented the first micrometer? Such a question is way out of my expertise. But, IMHO, that question is sort of like "How long is a piece of string?", when no dimension is given and no string shown to you.

Is the inventor of the micrometer "the first individual to devise a device incorporating a calibrated screw used widely for precise measurement of small distances"? If so, Maudslay wasn't widely used, but Palmer's was.

In my own perverted style of thinking, if I asked who invented the first cruise ship (and it had to be documented), then those folks who think someone before Palmer invented the first micrometer, have to think the first cruise ship was Noah's Ark. You have to think about that.

I believe it is still a fact that a human cannot make a sound himself that he hasn't heard. Yes, a human can put two sounds together that he heard in to a different sound, but he had to hear them first. So, where did Maudslay get his concept. Who's shoulders did he stand on? And, how far back does on go? Does it start at the screw?

My answer to the "piece of string" question stops at this tenet or dimension for defining the question, "the first individual to devise a device incorporating a calibrated screw used widely for precise measurement of small distances".

It was Palmer.

Ok, fire away!

:cheers:
 
Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in the early 1870s. He even brought a setup to the Philadelphia Centennial in 1876 and amazed the crowds. But it took Edison, Blake, and several others to make it into a commerical entity. Nevertheless, it became popular as "The Bell System" even though for Bell, it never advanced beyond the point of being a parlor game for rich people.

Edison, on the other hand, invented the "Edison System" even though others before him including Gramme, Swan, Westinghouse and others had similar but less thought out systems.

So it can go both ways.

Joe
 








 
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