An English Victorian period abacus from the 19th century, with wooden frame, iron rods and wooden beads. Created in England during Queen Victoria's reign, this wooden abacus is an example of one of the most well-known and least understood tools for counting, starting with counting boards and evolving all the way to the computers and smartphones. The oldest surviving counting board that we know of is called the Salamis tablet that was made of marble, but during the middle ages, wood became the primary material. At that time, the orientation also switched from vertical to horizontal as seen on our piece. Arithmetic gaining popularity in the later years of the Middle Ages, the use of counting boards began to diminish and eventually disappear. However, there are still stores today in China that will use the abacus.
Our English 19th century Victorian abacus is made of the ten traditional horizontal rods holding ten wooden beads (for our ten fingers) each. Each row has a slightly different wooden hue. The beveled base supports the ensemble. Today, one of the uses for the abacus, in addition to its decorative value, is teaching children simple mathematics and especially multiplication.
Place of Origin:
Dimensions: 4"H x 4.75"D x 1.25"W
Inventory Number: VAB98