Odometer by Keuffel and Esser Company

Keuffel and Esser Companycirca 1900

Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

The odometer manufactured by Keuffel and Esser Company measured distance traveled. The metal frame holds two dials. The top dial consists of units marked in single digits from 0 to 100. A window in the top dial reveals a second dial below with similar marks. The unit of measurement is not specified. The device attached to a vehicle by the ring at one end.

The Post Office Department equipped route agents with odometers to establish rural free delivery routes at the turn of the twentieth century. Using odometer readings and maps, officials worked to optimize the routes in new areas. They sought to use the minimum number of carriers and to portion the routes into equal distances. Some carriers used odometers to argue for changes to their routes, recording their miles covered and hoping to prove that an alternate road could save time.

Museum ID: 0.234863.127

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  • Title: Odometer by Keuffel and Esser Company
  • Creator: Keuffel and Esser Company
  • Date Created: circa 1900
  • Physical Dimensions: 14 × 5.6 × 1.8 cm
  • Medium: metal; glass; paint