Square signed ‘J. Ramsden, 1757’. This square belonged to, and was probably made by, Jesse Ramsden. The brass section of the instrument is scored with letters, figures and other marks.
This drawing instrument was a trial piece made by Jesse Ramsden when he was a 22-year-old apprentice, one year into his training as a mathematical instrument-maker. It carries marks which appear to be where he practised his signature and tested his graver.
Ramsden (1735-1800) was one of the leading makers of scientific instruments at work in Britain at the end of the 1700s. Before establishing a large workshop in Piccadilly in London, he was based at Denmark Court, off the Strand.
The instrument-making trade flourished during the 1700s thanks to new innovations, tools and techniques. However, it remained a hand craft well into the 1800s, and engraving was an important skill for makers to master.