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Map measure of the month: the “Inco” Krzywomierz Turystyczny

This months map measure was manufactured in Poland for both civilian and military use. It is simple, well made and accurate. Yet it operates in an entirely different way to almost all competitors.

ZZG Inco Krzywomierz Turystyczny measure in the hand

The manufacturer of our Krzywomierz Turystyczny (‘Curve metre Tourist’) map measure was ZZG INCO (Zakład Chemii Budowlanej United Economic Teams INCO-Veritas), then based in Warsaw, Poland. These measures were produced in the 1970s and 1980s. Company branding on these instruments altered over the manufacturing period. This measure displays the second logotype dating from the 1980s and accompanying documentation strongly suggests a 1984 date.

The Polish pax Publishing Company was formed in 1947. This still survives within the parent company and today publishes books on theological, philosophical, social and historical subjects. In 1949 the company joined the Society to International Trade- INCO. The Society to International Trade ultimately failed internationally due to the US refusing to ratify the charter. Instead, trading elements of the charter were incorporated into a General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT, established 1947) which then evolved into establishing a fledgling World Trade Organisation (1994) for multilateral agreement for the reciprocal reduction of tariffs on trade in goods.

Inco have a large presence on the domestic market in Poland with many familiar Polish brands including Ludwik (cleaning products, introduced 1964), Florovit (introduced 1976) and Azofoska (both fertilizers), Buwi (shoe and floor cleaning polish, introduced 1954) and Flesz (cleaning products, introduced 2002). In 1958 the company was transformed into the multi-branch Inco United Economic Teams. The next major change wasn’t until 1990 when the company became Inco-Veritas Sp. z o.o., then Inco-Veritas S.A. in 1998 with yet another change in 2012 to Grupa Inco S.A. Apart from a change in branding, the company still has this name and Grupa Inco S.A. has an increasing presence in the EU and Eastern European markets.

Measure comes with a simple but well made leather slip pouch
The type of leather pouch supplied with the Inco measure varied with seemingly no reason or continuity other than personal buyer preference
The type of leather pouch supplied with the Inco measure varied with seemingly no reason or continuity other than personal buyer preference

This is a well made measure. The case is made from a lightweight metal, possibly aluminium or similar. The finely toothed steel tracking wheel acts on brass internal gearing. Each side of the measure has the scale cast into the case below the curved window through which the face of the thin metal measuring dial can be seen. Each dial is protected by a thin glass cover. A single screw holds the case together and the makers logotype “INCO” is shown on one side only- the 1:100 000 face. A 55mm long smooth rubberised plastic handle keeps the weight down and the whole instrument weighs just 16g. Dimensions are 110mm x 31.5mm. The case has a maximum depth of 4.65mm.

The way that the Inco KW-T measure operates is interesting as it differs from almost all other similarly shaped measures from other manufacturers. Most measures have a small tracking wheel that the user moves along route or line on a map or drawing etc. The rotation from the tracking wheel is then transferred via fine internal gearing to a needle that rotates around a dial face. The Inco differs in that the needle is stationary and the dial rotates past it.

Close up on 1:25 000 face. This has graduations: 0, 5, 10, 15, 20, divided into fifths, with intermediary tenths. It will measure a line up to one metre in length
close up on 1:100 000 face
Close up on 1:100 000. This has graduations: 0, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 85, 90, 95, divided into fifths. It will measure a line up to one metre in length

The Inco measure can measure two scales directly, though these can of course be halved and doubled to provide greater flexibility in measurement. Limiting the measure to just 1:25 000 and 1:100 000 scales is pretty prescriptive however and sales were no doubt limited as a result. The measure was available not only to the civilian market (tourist) but also used in large numbers within the Polish military.

Little documentation accompanies the measure. There are no operating instructions as it is pretty much intuitive, just a slip of paper detailing the manufacturing factory- ZZG “INCO” Zaklad Mech. Precyz, Jeziorna, ul. Spacerowa 9. The model- Krzywomierz Turystyczny (Curve metre Tourist) Kw-3, altered from KwT. A product date of 29 June 1984 is also included. The cost isn’t included with this measure but they retailed for around 120 zloty in the mid 1980s. Equivalent today (2022) to £22 however the third złoty (1949-1994) was in circulation at the time and has been redenominated and devalued since.

A small (54mm x 74mm) crumpled slip of paper accompanies the measure
A small (54mm x 74mm) crumpled slip of paper accompanies the measure

The measure looked at here was purchased as new old stock. There appear to be a great many on the market and are easily available at reasonable cost. Prior to purchasing one however, ensure that the scale is relevant to the use to which you intend it.

Earlier example of Inco measure showing the 1970s Inco logotype incorporated at that time
Earlier example of Inco measure from 1971 showing the 1970s Inco logotype incorporated at that time. The construction of the case differs slightly too

Three Points of the Compass has looked at a few more Map Measurers in detail. Links to these can be found here.

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