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  • Date:

    ca. 1886-90 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Delgado, George (maker)
    Polygraph Co. (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Given by Alan Delgado and his sister Mrs M. B. Finzi, children of the licensee

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 122b, case 1

Object Type
This object, made from brass, is a circular metal template used as an aid to making scale drawings and various geometric shapes. The measurements are die-stamped on the diameter and circumference, along with details of patents (a government grant of exclusive privilege for the making or selling of a new invention).

The polygraph was an American invention patented by the Polygraph Company, Philadelphia, USA, on 8 December 1885. A licence was granted the following year to George Delgado for the manufacturing of the polygraph in Europe.

Ownership & Use
The polygraph was advertised by the manufacturers as 'A Revolution in Drawing' and was aimed at designers, decorators, draughtsmen, architects, engineers and artisans. It was also described as an invention by which schoolchildren and even 'a child of few years' could 'produce drawings, which formerly required long months of study and preparation'. The polygraph offers an element of surprise in the unpredictable patterns it creates. It also helps to produce an evenness and regularity when producing the pattern that would be difficult to achieve freehand. The circular metal template was accompanied by a set of instructions and a sheet of examples showing the type of designs that could be produced with the instrument.


ca. 1886-90 (made)


Delgado, George (maker)
Polygraph Co. (designer)

Materials and Techniques



Depth: 0.75 cm, Diameter: 12 cm

Object history note

patented by the Polygraph Co., Philadelphia, USA
Made in England under licence by George Delgado;

Descriptive line

Delgado's Polygraph with replica instructions, ca. 1886

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Delgado's Polygraph was a Victorian drawing tool used to create patterns. It was marketed as an aid to help children develop drawing skills and as being of 'practical benefit to designers'. A replica polygraph is in a box to your left. [27/03/2003]


Tools & Equipment


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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