Very early machine for adding and subtracting numbers from 0-100 in the shape of an astrolabe. The machine - signed "Pierre Fardoil à Paris" is hand-crafted in brass and steel, measures 5-1/2 inches in height and is in perfect working condition. Traces of silver indicate that this fine instrument was originally silvered.
Fardoil's contribution to the development of mechanical calculating devices is the introduction of his mechanism which enables the operator to read the result without counting the dividing marks on a circular scale of a disc shaped adding machine. Fardoil achieved this improvement by utilizing a planetary gear turning two round scales underneath two stationary hands ten times over the entire range of the adding machine. The two scales show the numbers from 0-9 for additions and for subtractions respectively. This simple use of a planetary gear enabled Fardoil to provide a read-out in the range of numbers between 0-100 without the need of a carry-over from 9 to 10, 20, 30, etc.
To read the instructions how to operate this adding/ subtracting machine click here!
Unlike the very early calculators by Schickard, Leibniz, Pascal, Grillet, and others, Fardoil's adding- and subtracting-machine was a true "pocket calculator" as it is flat and would fit in any pocket.
This exceedingly early adding- and subtracting-machine is in the condition as it was found with the exception of the replaced two flat steel springs which became a victim of oxidation over the last 300+ years. The springs have been replaced by distinguished watch maker Paul Gerber in Zurich Switzerland.
Signs of silver on the surface is an indication that this instrument was silvered when it left Pierre Fardoil's shop at Place de Dauphine in Paris more than 300 years ago. This calculator is in perfect working order, its operation smooth and exact.
Calculators manufactured by hand before mass-production, which started around 1875, are extremely scarce; there are less than ten other models of calculators known which were invented or made before circa 1700. Fardoil invented his adding machine approx. 80 years before the French Revolution! King Louis XVI (1774-1792) — executed in 1793 — was not even born when Fardoil invented his adding machine. Louis XVI was born only about 50 years later, in 1754. Pocket watches were already made in limited numbers as there was the need to know time and pocket watches were a status symbol at the time for the few who could afford them.
The Fardoils were a watch-making dynasty. Pierre Fardoil was one of the sons of Pierre Fardoil senior from Blois, France, who died in 1669. Fardoil became a registered master watchmaker in 1684. He was a Huguenot (French Protestant) and fled France for London due to religious persecution; there he worked under the name Peter Fardoil. Some of his inventive work signed "Peter Fardoil" is part of the collection of the British Museum, (museum #1958,1201.23471958,1201.2347).
The revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 caused the Huguenots, mostly protestants, to lose their civil rights and many escaped to neighboring countries as refugees. Around 1700 Fardoil returned to France and set up his workshop at the Place Dauphine in Paris as watchmaker for King Louis XIV 1643-1715, (mâitre horloger du Grand Conseil du Roy). King Henry IV, father of King Louis XIII (1610-1643), named this place after his son who was also called la Grand Dauphine.
Remarkably, Place Dauphine was built for the emerging merchant class to purchase rather than the elite classes like Henri IV‘s other notable civic project Place des Vosges. The properties were quickly bought up by scientists and goldsmiths who built laboratories and shops. All leading advances were discovered here: Alchemies, medicine, science, photography, watch making and more. Marie Antoinette and Napoleon bought the first Piguet watches here in their shop. No wonder that Pierre Fardoil chose the place to setup shop to create his innovative clocks, watches, and other instruments such as his calculator here.
Fardoil died in 1722. Among many ingenious designs, Fardoil also invented his famous dividing engine for wheels with 102 to 800 teeth, built an astronomical pendulum clock for King Louis XIV (1643-1715) the Great, the Sun King, and built many pocket watches which were characterized by novel and unusual features. Pierre Fardoil is also well known as the first watchmaker to create full-enamel dials. His valuable clocks and pocket watches are today part of famous museums such as the "Musée de l'Observatoire", the "Musée des Arts et Metiers" (both in Paris), "Musée International d'Horlogerie La Chaux-de-Fonds", Switzerland, and the "British Museum", in London, which has in its collection a pocket watch dated c. 1700. Fardoil's pocket watches are also to be found among important private collections. The astronomical pendulum clock survived to this day and is part of the collection of the "Musée de L'Observatoire", Paris, exhibited at the Château de Meudon,(Louis XIV, Le Grand Dauphin, died there in 1715.)
The other example of Fardoil's calculator known to exist and mentioned above was donated to the "Musée des Arts et Metiers, Paris" in 1866 by the French "Académie des Sciences." However, this second example mysteriously vanished or can not be found by museum curators; last records date back to 1942. This Fardoil calculator was cataloged under the inventory number 7477 and described as "Cadran pour faire les additions et les soustractions, par P. Fardoil (1720)." It is not clear whether the calculator with the inventory number 7477 is the same model as the one offered here as there are no photographs of that adding machine available.
This exceedingly rare and early adding machine is of superb museum quality and one of the earliest machines in the history of mechanical calculators. Also included in the lot is a Single Hand Pocket Watch, or Oignon Montre (its fat, bulbous form suggests an onion), by "Pierre Fardoil", c. 1710, with fuse movement signed "P. Fardoil a Paris", with polished green ray-skin-covered fire-gilded case, domed glass, enameled dial with Roman numerals, lance-shaped hand, gilt plate movement, pierced and engraved balance cock, Egyptian pillars, key-wind spindle from the front, Ø 2 3/5 in., running condition! With key. This Single Hand Pocket watch is one of the first with full enamel face and also features the unusual front windup through the center spindle as shown in picture #19.
Inventory Number 07647;
This adding- and subtracting machine, the only one in private hands and one of two know extant examples, fetched the price of 55,000 Euros (67,631.85 Euros, or $73,513, including buyer's premium) at Auction Team Breker on May 30, 2015, in Kolone, Germany. The present owner is selling it due to age.