COLLECTION: Tools & Equipment

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Traveler

ca.1770-1850
Origin: America
Overall: 11 3/4 x 5 x 1 1/8in. (29.8 x 12.7 x 2.9cm)
Wrought iron
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1968-521
Wrought iron measuring tool consisting of a flat-sectioned iron wheel bisected by a bar forge welded across its diameter. Handle of chamfered square section with a tapering suspension loop at top. Bottom portion of handle flattens out and forks to secure the wheel, which spins on a riveted pin.
Label:This curious looking device is called a "traveler," and is named for the way it's wheel travels across a surface when easily pushed along it. Neither a plaything nor a whirligig, a traveler is a clever measuring device with some very specific uses. By running it along the edge of a wagon wheel for example, and counting the cycles of the traveler's wheel, one could determine the exact length of its surface. This calculation was all important to the manufacture of the iron tire which had to fit perfectly on its wheel. A traveler could also be used to measure any other curvilinear or flat surface, making it an indispensable tool in the arsenal of the early American blacksmith.