After many years of making my popular Abacus line, it’s time to bid it adieu and introduce some new exciting designs. Some pieces are still in stock but when they sell out, no more will be available. In the meantime, I thought I’d share a bit of the history behind the abacus.
Depending on your age, you might remember using or at least playing with an abacus in grade school. It was fun to slide the beads up the bar and then bet your classmate that yours would race down faster than theirs. And maybe after playing around you even learned a little something about arithmetic.
Before numbers came into being, counting was done using fingers and toes and if necessary, rocks were added if digits weren’t sufficient. Rudimentary counting boards were then created and used until numbers came into existence. Whether defined as a counting board or an abacus, this device was nothing more than a physical aid to help the person as they figured the calculations in their head.
The first counting boards were thought to be pebbles placed between lines drawn on the ground. Soon after, wooden tables filled with sand were created and then for portability, smaller wooden boards with wooden discs were designed. Then for more lasting durability, these were replaced by marble or bronze frames with metal or polished stone markers. Depending on what century and empire an abacus was made determined how many decks were included, how many markers were used and if the board was designed vertically or horizontally.
During the ages, even though it seems unlikely, the abacus continued to evolve. In fact in 1958 Lee Kai-chen invented a modified abacus complete with instructions for multiplication, division and figuring square and cubic roots.
Presently I have a limited selection of Abacus designs remaining in my collection. If you see something you’re interested in, please order now so you don’t miss out: Monthly Trunk Show.