Whoops. Since I wrote the above, Iris seems to have discontinued the entire line of storage units of which IRS121912 was part. Iris has replaced them with similar looking units which are only about 14 inches deep overall--not deep enough for a ten-inch slide rule. I was able to find a model 121912 through the Internet for an exorbitant $60 (including shipping) in August 2005.
Now that you have a place to store your cases, you have to decide if you are going to store your slide rules in their cases. Personally, I don’t. I like to have immediate access to all my rules. The delay in figuring our which drawer the rule I need is in, finding the rule within that drawer and removing it from its case is intolerable. So I keep nearly all my rules displayed on pegboard in my office. (That’s why my collection is limited to about 300 rules.)
There is another advantage to storing rules out of their cases: Many rules become yellowed in their cases. It is my experience that storage in the open air invariably eliminates that yellowing in a few months without any effort on my part. If you decide to keep your rules in their cases, I suggest you make exceptions for extremely yellowed rules; store them in plastic bags next to their cases.
I store my slide rules on my walls and their cases and boxes in Iris units; instructions are with the box or case. The cases are in plastic bags with the end left open. I’m nervous about storing leather in plastic bags but the bag protects the case from abrasion and keeps an identifying label with the case. I use common zip-lock polyethylene bags. Almost any size you want is available in quantity on the Internet. I find 3 x 8, 3 x 15, 4 x 16 and 6 x 9 inches to be useful. True archivists store most things in Mylar bags; you can find Mylar bags for sale on the Internet from library and museum supply sources.
Information relating to model of rule
By the way, which is the front side of a duplex slide rule? My convention is the side with the shorter stator up. Others use the side with the maker's name or the side with the A and B scales. Users of the latter two conventions have to indicate the shorter stator separately. All systems run into problems with exceptional rules. (What do you when both stators are the same length? What if there is no maker's name or it's on the edge? What if there are no A and B scales or if there are A and B scales on both sides of the rule?)
Market Value is important if you are as old as I am. Your heirs need to know. I trust you have told them generally how to dispose of your collection.
Acquisition number: Give each
item you acquire a serial number and mark all its accessories with that
number. One way to do this is to buy four sets of consecutively numbered
gummed labels. Put one on the back of the slide rule, others on slips
of paper with the case, box, instructions, etc. It’s ok to put gummed
labels on your slide rules but NOT on paper or leather items.
I use pretty much the system outlined above but I store the data in an Access database--actually three linked Access databases—a model database, a specimen database and a vendor database. (This is ‘way more complicated than necessary.) The principal benefit in using a database is its “report” capability. My database prints separate labels to be kept with the slide rule, the case, the box, and the instructions. It also prints a full page report on each rule—including a picture of the specimen—which I collect in a loose-leaf notebook. (Sample page shown at right.) Various summaries of the entire collection are available, too.
All-in-all, I don’t recommend a database in preference to a spreadsheet. Microsoft Access is buggy and I had to find “work-arounds” for several things. It’s not as convenient as a spreadsheet--for example, one could sort a spreadsheet on market value with a couple of key clicks but I’d have to figure out how to write a program to do that in a database. It is nice that the database assigns an acquisition number automatically and puts that number on all the labels but I have to write it by hand on the gummed label I put on the rule—which I sometimes forget to do.
It is not necessary to keep your records on your own computer. Some collectors post pictures and information about all their rules on their Internet Personal Web Pages.
Flatbed scanners are the best way for slide rule collectors to acquire pictures of their rules. Since a slide rule sits slightly above the glass surface—not in contact with it—the scanner needs great depth of field in order to produce a sharp image. “Charge-coupled-device” (CCD) scanners have much better depth of field than do “contact-image-sensor” (CIS) scanners and should be your only choice. “Legal-size” scanners will scan the full length of a ten-inch slide rule; “letter-size” won’t. When purchasing a new scanner in 2004, the only companies I could find that marketed reasonably-priced legal-size CCD flatbed scanners were Microtek and Umax. I bought a Microtek Scanmaker X12USL; it has served me very well.
How about using a camera instead of a scanner?
Herman van Herwijnen produced spectacular pictures with a camera on a permanently
set-up copystand. He avoided distortion and improved resolution by
photographing his rules in sections no longer than about 6 inches.
The camera and copystand technique handles specular reflection and background
rendition much better than flatbed scanners do. However, flatbed scanners
come out 'way ahead on convenience and resolution. (A quick, "back
of the envelope," calculation indicates that it would take about a 39 megapixel
digital camera to equal the resolution of a flatbed scanner at 600 dpi.)
Wataru Tsuchihira has recently started using a Fujitsu SV600 document scanner.
It's expensive (about $900) and convenient only if you can leave it
set up permanently but it produces the best slide rule pictures I have seen.
For documentation of my personal collection I scan the leftmost 7 inches of each rule at 600 dpi with a gray scale. That produces a nice 1:1 black and white picture for each inventory page.