Remember This? Rulers

Dorri Partain
Contributor


Ruler fight? Touché!


Many school supplies inside the grade school desk provided options for the creative-minded student. When the teacher wasn’t looking, that bottle of glue could be used as a microphone and the scissors made a silly pair of glasses.


But the ruler had the most potential. Whether it was wood, plastic, or metal, it could be used to spar with a classmate in an under-the-desk sword fight. Likewise, if the ruler had holes, it could be fitted on the sharpened end of a pencil and become a helicopter blade.


All fun aside, the teacher required the ruler so students could learn measurement in math class and draw straight lines during art projects.


The 12-inch ruler as we know it today was conceived by the ancient Romans, who had the propensity to divide or count in increments of twelve. Early measurements were based on human anatomy, such as the hand or foot, and those terms still describe measurements today.

The British Weights and Measurements Act of 1827 sought to standardize measurements due to the different sizes of hands and feet. Foot, yard, ounce and pound are all referred to as Imperial Measurements.


Based on the British standards, Americans adopted the U.S. Customary System in 1832, and it is still referred to as English Measure.


Beginning in 1968, the movement to introduce the Metric System of Measurement led to the inclusion of centimeters along the bottom edge of the 12-inch ruler. The U.S. Metric Study recommended in 1971 that the Metric System should be adopted, but the U.S. is one of only three other countries, including Liberia and Burma, that still uses English Measure.

Both yardsticks and rulers have been offered as advertising giveaways to promote various businesses. This metal ruler was offered “Compliments of your Monumental Agent.” The Monumental Life Insurance Company was founded in Baltimore in 1858 and became part of the Transamerica Premier Life Insurance Co. in 2014.

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