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1870s Stanley #87 Folding Ruler Presented By Andrew Carnegie To 1st Steel-master For Sale
Historically important, ca1870's, Stanley Rule & Level Company, 4 fold, 24" German Silver Bound, Ox Bone Folding Ruler #87 presented by Andrew Carnegie to his first Steel-Master Captain William R. Jones. It was" Bill " Jones who took the invention of Kelly and Bessemer into his strong hands and developed it into one of the wonders of the world. It was his work that gave the Carnegie company its first uplift on the road to domination of the American (and World) Steel Industry. This beautiful Folding Ruler is housed in an equally beautiful, custom leather bound, book form Case which also contains the letter of transmittal that was sent with the Ruler to Mrs. Andrew Carnegie from Captain Bill Jones' niece, a note in the hand of Mrs. Carnegie identifying the Ruler as having been given to Jones by her husband and two letters relating to the transmittal of the Ruler to the Offices of the Carnegie Illinois Steel Company in 1946.
The Folding Ruler itself is a thing of beauty and the Stanley #87 is among the most desirable of the Stanley Folding Rulers. It is 1" wide (when folded), is fully bound with German Silver and has an arch joint. It is marked "No.87" and carries the mark of the "Stanley Rule & Level Co, / New Britain, Conn.". The central arch joint is engraved "W. R. Jones". Although the Ruler is not dated, we know that Jones first came to work for Andrew Carnegie in 1875 as manager of Carnegie's first steel plant at Braddock, Pennsylvania and that Jones died in an accident at the same plant in 1889. Thus we can be sure that the Ruler dates from this period. Jones went to work for Carnegie at a time when the man, who would eventually sell his company for $250,000,000, was attempting to stave off bankruptcy and had yet to produce even a pound of steel. By 1880 Jones was making the same salary as the President of the United States (twice that much with his share of the plant's profits) and Carnegie was already well on his way to immense wealth. Chances are Andrew Carnegie gave this beautiful, though rather inexpensive gift (in 1910 the #87 sold for $80.00 per dozen) to Jones in the early years of production at the Braddock Plant - by 1880 one would expect that a gift from Carnegie to Jones would be of significantly greater value!!
This beautiful Stanley Folding Ruler #87 is in excellent condition. There is no damage of any kind and all of the joints are tight. The outer surface exhibits a rich, warm patina while the inner surface is a brilliant white. While the markings are not significantly worn the Ruler definitely shows signs of use with some wear to the markings on the German silver portions of the Ruler and some tiny and minor dings on the binding. This Ruler was certainly NOT some type of “Ceremonial Presentation” item but was a Ruler that Captain Jones surely used on a regular basis in his work at Carnegie’s Steel Plant. Although his name is engraved on the arch joint, there is no presentation engraving and his name is nicely but not professionally engraved.
The stunningly beautiful, custom Book-form Case is finely bound in full leather with gold gilt decorations and text on the spine identifying the contents as a Rule “Presented by Andrew Carnegie to Capt. Bill Jones”. The Case appears to be of mid to late 20th century manufacture and retains its original, cloth covered slipcase. Within the “Book” there are three leaves with glassine covers that contain the documents relating to the transmittal of the Ruler There is a 2 page manuscript dated September 24, 1942 to Mrs. Andrew Carnegie from one of the last surviving members of Captain Jones’ family explaining why she was sending the Ruler to Mrs. Carnegie. There is also a letter dated August 13, 1946 ( a few months after the death of Mrs. Carnegie) from the Carnegie Mansion at 2 East 91st Street, New York. This letter is to C.R. Cox, President of Carnegie Illinois Steel Company transmitting the Ruler to Cox and stating that a note in Mrs. Carnegie’s handwriting accompanied the Ruler. A third Letter from Cox (also dated in 1946) acknowledging receipt of the Ruler, the letter from Bill Jones’ niece and the note written by Mrs. Carnegie. Also included is the notation in the Hand of Mrs. Carnegie which reads: “Rule belonging to Capt. Jones given him by Andrew Carnegie given to me by Capt Jones’ niece.”.
The Book-form Box measures approx. 8 1/4” by 9” and 1 1/2” thick. All edges are gilt and the Ruler fits snuggly into the fitted depression which occupies the center of the rear portion of the Box. The leather bound is exceptionally well preserved and exceptionally beautiful. The included Documents are also exceptionally well preserved and the only wear is a small split to the rear corner of the cloth bound, paperboard slipcase.
Captain William R. Jones was one of the most important figures in the development of the Steel Industry in the United states and was instrumental in the rise of Andrew Carnegie to the top of that Industry. The following is taken from Herbert N. Casson’s “The Romance of Steel” (1907):
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1870s Stanley #87 Folding Ruler Presented By Andrew Carnegie To 1st Steel-master: $1,225