I have also included the story of acquiring it which I'll re-post here. Enjoy.
THE BACK SIDE OF PALMER’S MICROMETER AND THE BACK STORY OF HOW I GOT IT.
Those that follow me know I love to tell stories. Earlier I told of Palmer’s Micrometer and here is how I came to own one of his earliest micrometers. WARNING; these stories might get long but will be filled with little tid-bits you may not have known and hopefully you will find sort of fun.
You have to understand as a collector there will be certain things one might refer to as a Holy Grail. An EARLY Palmer micrometer would certainly be the Holy Grail for an Antique Machinist Tool Collector like myself. Years ago every serious collector of this sort of thing was searching for one and every now and then someone would find a micrometer stamped Palmer, but they weren’t from Palmer’s time, they dated from around 1900. Remember in France a micrometer is called a “Palmer” or Systeme Palmer. It still is to this day. So when wandering around antique flea markets in France I would always ask if they had any “Palmers”, not micro meters as they seemed to think that was two words and you might be shown nearly anything. Since my French is really bad I would show a picture I carried in my pocket. It never worked, I never found one.
Now I did have an advantage in this search because not only had I seen one of the earliest documented Palmer micrometers, one with a written history back to Palmer’s workshop in the 1850s, I had even held it in my hand. It was at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. where I had been hanging out since a little kid and gotten to know many of the old time curators. I used to visit their offices and they gave me access to the libraries and collections in storage. It turns out these are extremely rare, as a matter of fact so rare that this one was the only example of a Palmer micrometer known at the time. The Science Museum in London and the Chicago Museum of Industry both had replicas. Even the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers in Paris, which I should add is only a few blocks away from where Palmer’s shop was, and the Deutsches Museum in Munich, did not have an original Palmer. As many of you know, these are among the finest technical museums in the world. I might add at this point the one the Brown & Sharpe company brought back in 1867 seems to have disappeared from their collection. So I’m in search of something nearly as rare as the Holy Grail. Now when I want something I often can be a very patient treasure hunter but like a dog in search of a buried bone, I am persistent and remember every detail.
Enter Ebay, the place you go to find even the most obscure object provided it is listed reasonably close to what it might really be called. I can search very broad and fast as there were evenings where I might scan down over 50,000 listings. I spent quite a bit of time hoping a Palmer micrometer would pop up. I even started searching on French and German eBay in their appropriate language. Now in French this gets interesting because a search under “Palmer” will get you all sorts of collectables, Chateau Palmer wine labels and bottles, the albums of the band Emerson, Lake and Palmer (I saw them live back in the day), Huntley & Palmer biscuit tins and even signature sex toys from a porn star named Palmer (these have since been removed from eBay Francais). One night I was looking down the pages and spotted this listing “1 PIED A COULISSE 1 PALMER OUTILS ANCIENS”, this translates to “1 caliper 1 micrometer (remember the French call a micrometer a Palmer) old tools”, so of course I look at the picture. OMG, in the 4 photos they only show the back side of the micrometer. It is stamped “BREVETE S. GAR. du GOV?” and the description said it was marked Palmer on the other side. In the eBay seller’s mind, why put a photo of a micrometer that says micrometer on it? As much as I wanted to see the other side I did not dare ask for a photo for fear it might be added to the listing tipping off others. But I knew something else very few other collectors knew. What it said on the back was patented, that’s “Brevete” and a reference to a fairly obscure French law, Sans Garantie Du Gouvemement. In simple terms this means the government issues a patent but makes no guarantee the object works. This law started in 1844 and by the 1860s items were simply stamped S.G.D.G., so since this micrometer had it spelled out it had to be fairly early. But when you look at the stamp you see the last letter is deformed; it is deformed in the exact same way the example in the Smithsonian was, meaning they were marked by the same stamp! The Palmer stamp on the side also had flaws in two letters. I so wanted to see the other side of the one for sale in France but refrained from asking for fear of letting anyone else see it.
It had just been listed and I think it was at 2 Euros when I started bidding, I bid a Euro and within an hour was outbid by a Euro, so I bid another. This went on for days reaching 74 Euros. Back then you could learn more about an opponent on ebay. It seemed the bidder was a French antique tool dealer. I based this on what they bought, sold and time of day they bid. The auction ended just 20 minutes before the kick-off of Super Bowl that year. I thought this might distract some American bidders that I assumed were laying in wait. All week long I did not give a single hint to my many tool collectors friends that I was on to something. I researched all I could and was convinced it was early and tried to figure just how high I would bid. With a few hours to go I had a good respectable bid in just in case the internet went down. With 2 minutes to go I bid my real amount, one that if it went that high the owner would fall out of their chair and if I lost the high bidder would be shocked. There were no other bids! WOW I had won it but it had to get in my hands before I could celebrate or tell my friends. I mean it was thousands of miles away, it could get lost in the post, a plane could go down, a fire, a ship sinking. So many things could happen. I had the seller express mail it overnight which almost doubled the costs, still cheap at any price. It had to be in my hands before it could be mine. Within days I did and it was mine.
"...The Jury calls particular attention to the new processes discovered by Mr. Palmer for making, with the utmost perfection and precision that leaves nothing to be desired, metal cylinders that are very long, closed at one end, and with a uniform thickness. These new products, made successively by chasing (or embossing) them by means of a balance wheel..."
I think this is a description of deep drawing brass shells using a fly press. This process was required to make ammunition for the first breech-loading guns that used metallic cartridges.