Tag Archives: curvimetre

Bux Measure

Map measurer of the month- The BUX map measure

The plastic Bux map measure frequently comes up for sale on the second hand market. This is a little surprising as it is amongst the simplest of map measurers ever manufactured. Often described as being made of bakelite, it is probably more likely to be catalin.

Bux measure works most easily with a 1″ to 1 mile map

Cheaply made, probably in the 1960s, the Bux measure was made in England and attempted to rival the far more expensive, more robust and certainly more accurate metal cased opisometers available from France, Switzerland and Germany.

Almost nothing seems to survive today that explains the origins of this little measure yet they were likely produced in their tens of thousands.

Each measure came in a small flapped paper envelope. This is printed with the simple to understand instructions on how to use.

Despite this type of measure having been used for many purposes- namely, with any undulating line that required measuring, the instructions that come with the measure only indicate use with maps.

THE BUX

MAP MEASURE

The measure is marked for scale 1″
to 1 mile. For 1/2″ to 1 mile simply
multiply the reading by 2; for 4
miles to 1″ multiply by 4 etc.
Before commencing a reading it is essential to 
see that the dial is at zero then to wheel the 
instrument lightly but firmly along the route
in the direction indicated by the arrow on
the case.

 

Bux map measurer in the envelope in which it was supplied

Bux map measurer in the envelope in which it was supplied

The Bux measure is very simple in construction. The small measure is moved by hand along a line on a map, pressing firmly onto the map when moving rotates the small metal wheel at the base. This has a fine toothed brass cog attached at its spindle, this in turn rotates another brass gear that engages with the plastic dial that rotates through the small window in the front. The gearing moves the dial through one fifth of a mile increments per inch of travel along a line on a map. Be it mapped path, bridleway, river or road.

Red and black numbering and incremental markings on Bux dials

Red and black numbering and incremental markings on Bux dials

A change was made in the colour of the plastic measuring dial at some point during its production. Numbering and increments on the dial changed from red to black, or vice versa. The dial is marked in five mile increments, so one full turn of the dial represents 50 miles of travel on a one inch scale map. Accuracy of measurement is pretty good.

So why is the measure called the ‘Bux’. Nothing seems to survive in print today to explain this. I can only hazard a guess, aided by the text that appears on the face of one of the examples that I have. This says ‘BUCK ENGLAND’. Buck almost certainly refers to the English County- Buckinghamshire. This Home County borders Greater London and was likely where the manufacturing was carried out. The word ‘Buckinghamshire’ is normally shortened to ‘Bucks’, and pronounced ‘Bux’.

The lighter plastic cased measure weighs 7.5g. The darker bodies, with a slightly different casting, weigh 8.2g. Three Points of the Compass has identified four generations of this little measure. These have one of the following:

Front of case Rear of case
text text
1″ = 1 ML

BUX

MADE IN ENGLAND PAT. PEND. large text, around case, no case recess
1″ = 1 ML

BUX

MADE IN ENGLAND PAT. PEND. small text, in case recess
1″ = 1 ML

BUX

  blank case recess
1″ = 1 ML

BUCK

ENGLAND

MADE IN ENGLAND PAT. PEND. large text, around case, no case recess
The rear of four generations of case castings

The front face of four generations of case castings

The rear of four generations of case casting

The rear of four generations of case casting

These little measures do not stand up there with the finest of scientific measuring instruments produced in the UK. They are a poor replacement for the finely made precision measurers made some fifty years prior. What they have done is bring such measures within reach of the pocket of just about anyone. They must have cost just pennies when new. Yet all four examples that are shown here still work, probably fifty to sixty years after manufacture.

Morris's Patent Wealemefna measurer is a simple tool in use

Map measurer of the month- Morris’s Patent Wealemefna

The Wealemefna is tiny in the hand. The case of this watch-chain instrument measures just 26mm across its width

The Wealemefna is tiny in the hand. The case of this watch-chain instrument measures just 26mm across its width

Newspaper advertisement for Morris's 'Wealemefna', a 'new design of map measurer'

Newspaper advertisement for Morris’s ‘Wealemefna’, a ‘bijou’ map measurer. The Graphic, 1880

Gold plated Wealemefna

Gold plated Wealemefna

Morris’s Patent Wealemefna is a simple map measurer dating from the 1870s. It was invented by Edward Russell Morris, of the Morris Patents Engineering Works, High Street, Birmingham. Quite tiny in size, it was designed to hang from the end of a gentlemen’s watch chain.

It was possible to purchase this instrument with a variety of case finishes- gilt, silver-plated, nickel, silver or gold. Cases were simple and lacked any additional decoration though subsequent resellers would occasionally add their own case inscription.

The Wealemefna comes supplied in a velvet lined, leather covered wooden snap case

The Wealemefna came supplied in a velvet lined, leather covered wooden snap case

The measurer will measure lines on maps or anything else, by holding it in the hand, face toward you, then wheeling forward. Despite it’s ‘bijou’ dimensions, it will measure long lines. The first incarnation of the Wealemefna measured lines up to ten feet in length with a second generation in the 1880s extending this, with an appropriately altered paper face to the dial, to 25 feet. This is the example shown here.

Each complete rotation of the larger blued hand measures 12 inches and moves the smaller hand forward one digit of the inner circle on the paper dial. One inch of measurement is registered on the outer marked circle, showing eighth of an inch graduations. For an instrument some one hundred and forty years old, it still works faultlessly.

Mr Edward Russell Morris, of Birmingham, is much happier in his inventions than devising names for them

Illustrated London News, 1876

It has an odd name. The English Mechanic and World of Science: Vol. 33, London, 1881, informs us that Morris created a wholly original name in an attempt to outwit his imitators, also declining to disclose the actual origin of the word.

Morris's Wealemefna- Shows eighth of an inch graduations and will measure lines up to 25 feet

Morris’s Wealemefna- Shows eighth of an inch graduations and will measure lines up to 25 feet in length

“Mr. Morris has invited our inspection of several forms of his ingenious little mysteriously-named measurer, and though it is late in the day to call attention to it—and probably unnecessary—we may just say that it is a most handy and accurate companion. Its inventor has recently brought out a miniature form of the instrument, which registers up to 10ft., and maу be carried in the waistcoat pocket, or worn as a watchguard-pendant”

“English Mechanic and World of Science” Vol. 33, London, 1881,

in response to comments made in the same journal in 1879

Morris was a member of the Institute of Civil Engineers from 1880 and designed and manufactured map measurers in a range of sizes, this is the smallest. The Wealemefna weighs just 15g. Exactly the same as a similar dimensioned Rota-Meter measurer produced by Barker and Son just a few years later which Three Points of the Compass will be covering later in the year.

Morris's Wealemefna and Barker & Son's similer Rota-Meter

Morris’s Wealemefna and Barker & Son’s similar Rota-Meter

Practical Motorist map measurer

Map measurer of the month- the Practical Motorist map measurer

The 1959 Practical Motorist Map Measurer

The 1959 Practical Motorist Map Measurer

The Practical Motorist map measurer was cheaply made, produced in the tens of thousands and was perfectly functional for motorists in the sixties and seventies. Beside sitting in the glovebox of many a car, they undoubtedly saw considerable use by hikers and cyclists too. For such a cheaply made map measure, they have lasted well and many continue to give service to this day.

Practical Motorist magazine. June 1959

Practical Motorist magazine. June 1959

1959 advertisement for the Practical Motorist Map Measurer

1959 advertisement for the Practical Motorist Map Measurer

Practical Motorist magazine was part of a stable of consumer magazines published by George Newnes Ltd. A publishing company founded by Sir George Newnes, Ist Baronet (1851-1910). After his death the company continued as a major leading magazine publisher. A sister magazine to Practical Motorist was Practical Mechanics.

Many magazines have offered, and continue to offer, free gifts or specially priced items to their readership. The Practical Motorist Map Measurer was one such product. It was a cheaper alternative to the more expensive metal bodied measurers made by mostly French, Swiss or German companies.

Three Points of the Compass has been unable to ascertain whether the map measurer offered by Practical Motorist was available to the public prior to their offer however it was in the June 1959 edition of Practical Motorist that an advertisement first appeared offering the ‘latest dial reading map measurer with magnifying glass‘ for the princely sum of two shillings and threepence, which included postage. The measurer was proclaimed- ‘a fraction of its real value‘. It was delivered in a small cardboard box with accompanying printed instructions on how to use.

“handsomely finished in a smooth durable material”

The measure is quite cheaply made though it is unclear who the actual manufacturer was. It has a plastic body, with plastic wheel and dial. Even the internal workings, few that they are, and the incorporated magnifying glass, are made of plastic. The measure works best with the old ‘one inch to the mile’ maps, also showing quarter mile gradations, and reading up to 20 miles or 20 inches. The other side of the scale is metric- measuring one kilometre to the centimetre up to 50 km, or 50 cm. Practical Motorist informs us that this scale is included so that- ‘the measurer can be taken with you to the Continent and used without modification‘.

Printed instructions were included with each order

Printed instructions were included with each order

Front of 1959 Practical Motorist Map Measure- scale 1

Front of 1959 Practical Motorist Map Measure- scale 1″ to 1 mile

Rear of 1959 Practical Motorist Map Measure- scale 1cm to 1km

Rear of 1959 Practical Motorist Map Measure- scale 1cm to 1km

The 1959 map measurers offered by the magazine had the words PRACTICAL MOTORIST MAP MEASURER moulded onto the body however others, including later ones, did not, stating instead ‘Made in England’ and Registered design number- 893037. A conversion table is included on the rear of the measure, showing kilometre to mile to kilometre.

Such was the popularity of the map measurer that Practical Motorist repeated the offer in 1964. This time as part of a wider offer. The May 1964 issue of the magazine included a free Road Map of Great Britain plus the offer to purchase a ‘special’ map case. The August issue included a free Holiday and Touring Map of Great Britain. Both maps were specially prepared by George Philip & Son Ltd.

Practical Motorist map case, road and tourist maps, pencil and map measurer, 1964

Practical Motorist map case, road and tourist maps, pencil and map measurer, 1964

1964 Practical Motorist Map Measurer

1964 Practical Motorist Map Measurer with Philip’s 1964 Road Map of Great Britain

The 1964 offer excluded the magazine title from the measure's plastic body

The 1964 offer excluded the magazine title from the measure’s plastic body

1964 case and contents

1964 case and contents

The vinyl map case when delivered contained two clear slip cases for the two maps, plus three pockets holding a notebook, a pencil and a Practical Motorist Map Measurer. The 1964 measure was coloured a rather horrid khaki, or pale olive green, that matched the internal colour of the map case. This measure does not include the ‘Practical Motorist Map Measurer’ wording on its case.

This is very likely because the measure was now more widely available to the public. While the khaki colour was likely bespoke for the Practical Motorist map case, the measure could also be purchased as a stand-alone item from other retail outlets. Three Points of the Compass has seen the measure available in various colours- White (cream), black, bright blue, red, pale olive green and purple. It is also often found in a bespoke leather slip case with a variety of embossed words on the front

Map measurer was available in a variety of colours

Map measurer was available in a variety of colours

Other than colour, there are three varieties of wording on the plastic bodies. The first includes the words ‘PRACTICAL MOTORIST MAP MEASURER’ and ‘SCALE 1″=1 MILE’ on one side with ‘SCALE 1cm=1km’ on the other. Another generation is the same but excludes the magazine title but includes ‘Made in England’ and registration design number. The final version has the scale wording altered to ”SCALE READS IN KILOMETRES’ on one side with the other reading ‘SCALE READS IN INCHES’ along with country of manufacture and registration design number.

The altered text across three generations of map measurer

The altered text across three generations of map measurer

My red bodied measure was a souvenir sold on the Motor Vessel Royal Daffodil. The instruction leaflet refers to its as the 'Pathfinder' model- a common name used for a number of different measurers

My red bodied ‘Route Measure’ was a souvenir originally sold on the Motor Vessel Royal Daffodil. This ferry had been renamed from its original designation- MV Overchurch, in 1999. The instruction leaflet that came with the instrument refers to its as the ‘Pathfinder’ model- a common name used for a number of different measurers

The Practical Motorist Map Measure was a cheaply made measure that provided basic function. It is unsurprising that it later became a stand alone purchase more widely available.

For a map measure that is now up to fifty to sixty years old, it is perhaps a little surprising on how well the plastic construction is holding up on many of these. My red bodied example was purchased some time after 1999 so they remained on sale for at least 40 years. They are fairly easy to find on the second hand market and are invariably still working almost as well as when they were first purchased.

Map measurer became available for purchase from various motoring or tourist outlets

Map measurer became available for purchase from various motoring or tourist outlets

Map measurer of the month- The Pathfinder Three-in-One

The Pathfinder Three-in-One was a multiple attempt at bringing together a map measure with two other functions. Usually a compass and one other- either pencil, magnifier or plug tester. You will frequently come across examples on the second hand market which is either testament to their robust longevity, or that they were simply thrown in a drawer and forgotten about.

Standard Pathfinder map measure with short handle

Standard Pathfinder map measure with short handle

Purchasers pf the Pathfinder map measure could choose one of two dial options. This is the inch to mile/centimetre to kilometre choice

Purchasers of the Pathfinder map measure could choose one of two paper dial options. This is the inch to mile/centimetre to kilometre choice

Made in Western Germany, probably mostly in the 1960s, the Three-in-One is based on the stock model Pathfinder map measurer. This is a single needle, dial measure with one of two paper dials inserted in the face. One choice was Statute miles/Kilometres/Nautical miles, the other dial face option was Inches to Miles/Centimetres to Kilometres. Once purchased, the owner could not change the paper dial to the other option. The choice had to be made when bought. There was also the option of purchasing a Pathfinder measure that had two measures, one on each side of the body, each with a different dial scale.

The metal bodied measure has two faces-front and reverse. Map measure on one and if not another measuring dial, then a simple magnetic compass on the reverse. The compass is not liquid filled and the needle fluctuates wildly before settling. However, it works. Cardinal and ordinal points are shown, incorporating 30° intervals, indicated with figures, around the outer edge. Between these, every 5° is included. And that is it. I wouldn’t like to rely on the compass as a primary navigational aid but if such a measure were carried in the glove box of a car then it probably sufficed reasonably well.

This is by no means a unique combination. There are a number of surviving examples of Victorian map measures that also include a compass, so common is the combination that many very cheap and cheerful Chinese made plastic bodied measurers produced today also have a tiny compass included.

Pathfinder with long handle. This has a compass in the reverse face

Pathfinder map measure with long handle. This has a compass in the reverse face and is capable of measuring statute miles, kilometres or nautical miles

Pathfinder Map Measure and compass. Any of the five options of handles could be fitted- short, long, magnifier, pencil or plug tester

Pathfinder map measure and compass. Any of the five handle options could be fitted- short, long, magnifier, pencil or plug tester

A second choice of standard Pathfinder map measure has a long handle. This is a far easier measure to manipulate when following a line on a map, spinning the handle between the finger tips while trundling the measuring wheel along a path or line on a map is a relatively simple task. The same two choices of dial face were available with this as it is only the handle length that has changed. Again, a compass is included on the other side of the measure.

Box and instructions for the basic Pathfinder map measure and compass

Box and instructions for the basic Pathfinder map measure and compass

Pathfinder Three-in-One map measure- with magnifying glass

Based on the basic model Pathfinder, there were three further ‘three-in-one’ options available. These were easy for the manufacturer to create, instead of including a short or long handle with the standard body, one of three alternative handles was attached. The first Three-in-One shown here has a combination that has also been produced by just a handful of other manufacturers. Three Points of the Compass has seen Victorian and later measurers that also offered a magnifying glass as an option however surviving examples of the Pathfinder Three-in-One with magnifying glass are testament to the relatively large numbers produced and sold.

Pathfinder Three-in-One map measure with compass and magnifying glass

Pathfinder Three-in-One map measure with compass and magnifying glass

Glass magnifier on map measure is perfectly functional

Glass magnifier on map measure is perfectly functional

Pathfinder Three-in-One map measure- with pencil

Compass on Pathfinder Three-in-One with pencil

Compass on Pathfinder Three-in-One with pencil

This is a pretty handy little combination. I would think more drivers utilising a map measure on a trip would want a pencil than magnifying glass. I doubt many cyclists or hikers would be using it much as they will not be carrying a map measure on trail.

Twisting the barrel reveals the propelling lead/graphite. Sadly this is not a particularly well made product as the barrels frequently split on this measure, indeed my example is also split toward the end as a result of internal pressure and most I have seen for sale also exhibit similar failure. It still works though and the lead is replaceable.

Pathfinder Three-in-One with propelling pencil

Pathfinder Three-in-One map measure with compass and propelling pencil

Pathfinder Three-in-one showing split barrel of propelling pencil. A frequent point of failure

Pathfinder Three-in-one showing split barrel of propelling pencil. A frequent point of failure

Pathfinder Three-in-One map measure- with plug tester

This final example of the Pathfinder Three-in-One is an oddity these days. I do wonder if it were ever actually popular or of much practical use beyond as a map measure or basic compass.

I confess to never having used the plug-tester. In fact I cannot even find instructions on how it should be used. Even the instructions that come with this model actually fail to give any instruction. Is this because everyone knew how to use these? Three Points of the Compass has quizzed a few ‘old boys’ who run classic cars and has yet to come across anyone either with actual experience in using one of these or able to give any indication on how effective this particular tool is.

Pathfinder map measure and compass with spark plug tester

Pathfinder map measure and compass with spark plug tester

Plug tester variant of the Pathfinder Three-in-One map measure showing the little oblong test window in the handle

Plug tester variant of the Pathfinder Three-in-One map measure showing the little oblong test window in the handle

I am guessing that you simply touch a spark plug or tip of a lead running to one while an engine is running and it lights the little oblong window in the black handle to indicate a proper electrical charge is being delivered to the spark plug. Though I could be very wrong in this. The label on the box says ‘for running order‘, but again, I am not at all sure how this can be achieved or checked with this tool.

The Pathfinder Three-in-One is an interesting range of map measures. The company has deliberately sought to diversify a pretty standard piece of kit. I am not sure that anyone would go and buy more than one of the variants and all are possibly more suited to the motorist rather than the hiker. The name Pathfinder has been used with other makes of map measurer, though none seem to be of any noticeable improvement over the examples shown here.

Electrical contact on Pathfinder Three-in-One map measure

Electrical contact on Pathfinder Three-in-One map measure

Enclosed instructions for Pathfinder Three-in-One map measure

Enclosed instructions for Pathfinder Three-in-One map measure

Pathfinder de Luxe

Pathfinder de Luxe, this measurer features map reader, compass and a magnifying glass that swivels out for use

Pathfinder de Luxe, this measurer features map reader, compass and a magnifying glass that swivels out for use

An uncommon variety of the Pathfinder map measurer was the Pathfinder de Luxe- ‘combined compass . map measure . magnifier’. Based on the short handled variety with map measurer on front face and compass on the rear, this also features a magnifying glass that can swivel out from in front of the map measurer dial to be used while perusing maps etc.

The paper dial on this example will measure inches-to-miles and centimetres to kilometres.

The magnifying glass on this measure can be easily switched out to a different strength magnifier if required.

Opisometer in case stamped Edward Stanford Charing Cross

Map measurer of the month- Stanford’s opisometer

 

Bone handled opisometer with finely turned finial

Bone handled opisometer with finely turned finial

An opisometer is a curious instrument. As soon as you handle one it is pretty obvious how it works. A handle, in this case made of bone, probably from a cow, with a small milled wheel that turns easily on a supported fine thread. There is also a small metal pointer to aid in locating whatever it is you are measuring.

An opisometer is easy to use with irregular lines on a map or drawing

An opisometer is easy to use with irregular lines on a map or drawing

What is essential is a scale to read off against once a line has been precisely tracked. You wind the wheel to one end of the thread, then wheel it along a line on a map, or along any distance you are measuring, then turn the wheel backwards against a known scale. With maps, the scale usually appears at the bottom. Simple to use and effective. Opisometers are still made today but seldom for use with maps, more as an aid in the medical or surveying worlds.

Stanfords Opisometer in small leather carry case

Stanfords opisometer in small leather carry case

Opisometer advertised in a 'Dictionary of British Scientific Instruments', by the British Optical Instrument Manufacturers' Association. 1921

Opisometer advertised in a ‘Dictionary of British Scientific Instruments’, by the British Optical Instrument Manufacturers’ Association. 1921

Having first stated as an employee of Trelawney Saunders at 26-27 Cockspur Street, Charing Cross, London in 1848, Edward Stanford became a partner in 1852. This business relationship never lasted the year however and Stanford became sole proprietor in 1853, expanding his shop, that sold maps and charts, to 7-8 Charing Cross. The business further expanded and a printing works in nearby Trinity Place was purchased. Stanfords became the map maker and seller in London. Now situated at 7 Mercer Walk, Covent Garden, they still enjoy an enviable reputation to this day supplying maps for countless expeditions across the globe.

As well as maps and charts, Stanfords sold many accessories including map measurers. The opisometer shown here is unlikely to have actually been made by Stanfords. It was likely supplied to them by a manufacturer of fine mathematical or surveying instruments. It is difficult to date, certainly they were being sold in the 1870s and the example shown probably dates from around then, but examples were still available for purchase for much of the first half of the twentieth century. Though an all metal construction became more in favour at the turn of the century.

The opisometer is pretty generic in design. Other sellers of surveying and mathematical equipment would also have stocked these, each seller having their own address stamped onto the bespoke leather case that held these quite delicate instruments. The Stanford example is quite small when compared against others that were available. It measures just 97mm (3 13/16″) in length. The turned and pointed finial on the end of the bone handle shows that this is an English made instrument as each country had their own particular design. It will measure a line 958mm (37 3/4″), so over a yard/almost a metre, which is quite remarkable for such a small instrument.

Small Stanfords opisometer (top) with larger opisometer supplied by Elliott Brothers who were making these instruments in the late nineteenth century

Small Stanford’s opisometer (top) with larger similar opisometer supplied by Elliott Brothers who were making these instruments in the late nineteenth century. The bottom example dates between 1853-1873

 

Simple to use, the little wheel is trundled along a line on a map, clicking every quarter mile

Map measurer of the month- the Velos ‘Clicker’, model 1460

Velos 'Clicker' map measurer

Velos ‘Clicker’ map measurer

“All 3 styles count the miles

on Mainroads, Coastlines and Byroads”

This is an oddity. Very little like it has been produced by any other manufacturer. It is as though the person who devised it had never come across a map measurer in his life and, with a clean sheet, came up with something new that, well, just kinda works.

Velos Clicker, model 1460, with protective chrome cap covering the measuring wheel

Velos Clicker, model 1460, with protective chrome cap covering the measuring wheel

British Industries Fair advertisement for manufacturers of 'Velos' Products, 1947

British Industries Fair advertisement for manufacturers of ‘Velos’ Products, 1947

Frank Pitchford and Co. were established in the early twentieth century. By the 1930s the company was called Rees, Pitchford and Co. Based at 72-74 Victoria Street, London, SW1, they registered the brand name Velos on 14 March 1946.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The prominent ‘V’ appeared on a wide range of products made by the company. General Velos office supplies included glass inkwells, erasers, rulers, pencil sharpeners, staples and staplers, hole punches and date stamps. Their bakelite range included desk tidys and inkwells, ashtrays and stamp wetters, and the Velos Clicker map measurer.

The distinctive Velos 'V' brand appeared on a wide range of office products from the company

The distinctive Velos ‘V’ brand appeared on a wide range of office products from the company

Simple to use, the little wheel is trundled along a line on a map, clicking every quarter mile

Simple to use, the little wheel is trundled along a line on a map, clicking every quarter mile

The side of the Velos Clicker, shown above, shows the English patent number- 422611. This was issued in 1935 and the drawing that accompanied the patent application shows well how the little wheel, when pulled along a line, would click as it rotated. The little wheel measures exactly one inch in diameter and clicks four times with each complete rotation. With a one inch to the mile map, this means that every quarter mile will be indicated with a click.

First versions of Model 1460 simply had a cambered wheel slid on to a pin mounted in the end of the handle. This could occasionally sashay rather than studiously follow a contour and the introduction of a small spring to the pin went a long way to calming its motion.

Contemporary drawing that came with the instructions on how to use the Velos Clicker

Contemporary drawing that came with the instructions on how to use the Velos Clicker

There was no risk that a user wouldn’t know how to use the instrument. Instructions were included on the box, information sheet and the side of most Clickers. Though there is a variant where the instructions were left off for some reason.

Four variants of the bakelite Velos Clicker. The development of the small wheel is apparent, as it the later inclusion of a small spring to keep the wheel steady and not swing out of position when moved along a line on a map.

Four variants of the Bakelite Velos Clicker, model 1460. The development of the small wheel is apparent, as it the later inclusion of a small spring to keep the wheel steady and not swing out of position when moved along a line on a map.

The Velos Clicker shown here also incorporated a ‘paper cutter and envelope opener’ at the other end. Rees, Pitchford and Co. actually produced at least four variants of the Clicker. The cheapest at sixpence was Model 1458 and combined the Clicker with a propelling pencil, a simple cap covered each end. For ninepence, you could purchase Model 1459. This was similar but had heavier caps, eraser, pocket clip and was chrome plated. The classic model however was Model 1460. Costing one shilling, this Clicker has a bakelite handle with letter opener at one end and Clicker at the other end. Complete with new style wheel and spring and protected by a chrome plate cap when not in use, large numbers were sold. Another robust model later appeared. Model 1461 again combining the Clicker with a propelling pencil. Models 1458, 1459 and 1461 are rarely encountered today.

Velos Clicker- Model 1460. Black bakelite handle

Velos Clicker- Model 1460. Black bakelite handle

Instruction leaflet for the Velos Clicker

Instruction leaflet for the Velos Clicker

Velos Clicker- Model 1460. Brown bakelite handle

Velos Clicker- Model 1460. Brown bakelite handle

So what happened to the Velos brand? Sadly it is rarely seen today. In 2004 the trademark was assigned to ACCO brands as just one of many that periodically appear on a myriad of office supplies. You can still come across examples of the Velos Clicker today on auction sites. One of those shown here was recently acquired for me by a work colleague as he rummaged through an auto-jumble in deepest Norfolk. Knowing my interest in such oddities he paid the grand total of three quid for it. Not that it is much use on modern metric maps though.

The Velos Clicker, ideal for measuring distance on older Ordnance Survey maps

The Velos Clicker, ideal for measuring distance on older Ordnance Survey maps

If you want to see a little more of one of these delightful little measurers, one of my favourite YouTubers- Wood & Graphic, took an affectionate look at the Velos Clicker here.

 

My much used German made map measurer

Map measurers

Map measurer, opisometer, curvimetre, mile-o-graph, meilograph, chartometer, call them what you will, in the era of digital mapping, who uses such an antique analogue object today? Well, Three Points of the Compass still does. I have used a simple little map measure for decades. The  cheaply made one shown above, made in Western Germany,  has been pulled down off the bookshelf hundreds of times over the past twenty years when planning routes. It replaced another that gave equally lengthy service but had eventually died the death.

It never goes on actual walks with me. Though I am one of a seemingly dying breed who still likes, appreciates and takes hard copy maps with me on trail. If I want to measure a distance on the map while sitting in a tent, pub or hostel lounge, I either guesstimate, infrequently use a roamer scale on my compass baseplate, a strip of paper which is then measured against the scale at the bottom of my map, or, most frequently, I use a length of thin cordage. The small hank of 2mm yellow cord in the image below is one of the two I carry for attaching my Katabatic Palisade quilt to my sleeping pad.

Assortment of map measurers from Three Points of the Compasses collection. Some cheap and nasty, some peculiar, one or two beautiful and uncommon

Assortment of map measurers from my collection. Some cheap and nasty, some peculiar, one or two beautifully made and uncommon

Plastic map measures sold to readers of a popular motoring magazine

Plastic map measures sold to readers of a popular motoring magazine

Map measurers can be sweet little pocket watch style affairs that were tucked into the waistcoats of the gentry, or simple little wheeled opisometers, like the one below,  sold in the likes of Stanfords map shop in the mid-twentieth century.

They could be made of plastic, bakelite or metal. Have handles incorporating bone or ivory. Cheap versions were given away at petrol stations, or combined into all-singing all-dancing measurer/compass/thermometers made in China by the thousand. That said, they still work. The cheapest will do the same job as the most expensive gold plated measurer ever made. They even make incredibly expensive digital versions today. I look on them with dismay, much preferring my little analogue measurers.

Simple opisometer

Simple opisometer

Newspaper advertisement for Morris's 'Wealemefna', a 'new design of map measurer'

Newspaper advertisement for Morris’s ‘Wealemefna’, a ‘bijou’ map measurer. The Graphic, 1880

The idea of map measurers is an old one, probably as old as ‘to scale’ maps themselves. Beyond simple calipers, early map measurers, or opisometers were very simple affairs indeed, little wheels on a threaded bar that could be pushed along a line. More expensive designs that incorporated a dial scale didn’t really appear in any great numbers until the later nineteenth century.

Anyone that required a map was also using a map measurer. The military use them, sailors use them, motorists use them, town planners and draughtsmen use them, and still, just a few walkers use them. You run a little wheel along a route, a path, a road, a river, a line on a drawing, then either read off the result or measure against a standard.

 

Box for 'Self-Registering Rotameter', giving detail on how to use

Box for ‘Self-Registering Rotameter’, provides detail on scale and how to use

While a piece of cord or length of paper will simply measure a length, more complicated versions can measure in many units- multiples or sub-units of inches or feet, centimetres or metres, versts, miles or kilometres. Also to different scales- The two-faced French made measurer below has scales for 1:20 000, 1:25 000, 1:40 000, 1:50 000, 1:75 000, 1:80 000, 1:100 000 and 1:200 000. Made almost a century ago, it is still an effective and useful piece of kit that cost me less than a tenner. Not that I ever use it of course, I still pull down the old favourite from the bookshelf.

Map measurer by Henri Chatelain, with Quarter-Inch Ordnance Survey map to The Border, 1935

Map measurer by Henri Chatelain, with “Quarter-Inch” Ordnance Survey map to The Border, 1935

Along with thousands of other hikers I rely very much on my online O.S. Maps when planning my routes. This will give me not only distance but also daily elevation. However I still like to use a map measurer on my paper maps when I can. It forces me to look at the terrain, the twists and turns, the type of country being crossed- across bogs, through woods, traversing moorland, traipsing through the backstreets of towns.

I won’t go in to any great detail on map measurers here. There is an expanding page on my website that gives more information. Over the years I seem to have built a bit of a collection of these little devices, just a small handful of which are shown above. There seems to be a dearth of information on these online or in print form. Perhaps it is because they aren’t that interesting, just to the likes of me and one or two other like-minded souls. So I have decided to share just a few from my collection with you- good reader, over the next year. Twelve, one a month, beginning January. I bet you cannot wait…

The ditty bag/repair kit that Three Points of the Compass carried on the Cape Wrath Trail in 2018. A Leatherman keychain multi-tool formed a vital component of this

The ditty bag/repair kit that Three Points of the Compass carried on the Cape Wrath Trail in 2018. The hank of 2mm cord was often pulled into use as a simple map measurer when considering alternative routes due to weather or resupply necessity.