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Rare French 17th-century "pocket" calculator set for London sale

Published on Aug 23, 2013 9:01 PM

LONDON (REUTERS) - It will take someone with pretty deep pockets to purchase and transport what is being described by auction house Christie's as one of four surviving 17th-century French "pocket" calculating machines, to be sold in London in October.

With an estimated price of between 70,000 pounds (S$140,000) and 100,000 pounds, and with dimensions of 14.5cm by 32.5cm, the "pocket" description is pretty much a euphemism.

But the compact size of the paper-and-wood box with a fascinating array of 24 dials embedded in the lid was one of its main selling points, James Hyslop, head of Christie's science department, said.

It was the invention of Rouen inventor and watchmaker Rene Grillet, who marketed his smaller and lighter device as a competitor to the sturdy but heavier brass machine invented by Blaise Pascal in 1642.

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