Euclidean Compasses

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Name coined by the inventor (in French "compas euclidien").



Jacques Besson (ca. 1540-1573)

Historic Period



Proportional compass published in Paris by Jaques Besson in 1571 and illustrated in a booklet entitled Description et usaige du compas euclidien [Description and operation of the Euclidean compass]. The booklet was sold together with the compass, several of which had been built for the author by the clockmaker to the King of France. The instrument, designed for geometric, perspectival, corographic and astronomical applications, was composed of two flat legs with divisions in inches (forming a rule one royal foot long when the compass was opened), an articulated joint carrying a compass, degree scale and polygon scale, and a third rule hinged to the ends of the legs, but removable, that served as graduated vane for topographical and astronomical measurements. Among the various operations of the compasses, Besson also describes its application to perspective drawing.

Bibliographical Resources

Besson, Jacques. Description et usaige du compas euclidien contenant la plus part des observations qui se font en la geometrie perspective, astronomie, et corographie…, A Paris, par Galiot du Pre, 1571.

Author of the entry: Filippo Camerota

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